Wednesday, July 12, 2006

11th July 2006

How shall we answer such hatred?

How shall we stitch together,
Word by careful word,
This torn page?

It is not a question
Of condemnation
Or forgiveness –
We have strength enough for neither.

Nor is it simply a matter
Of measuring the wounds
And adding them all up.

Statistics will not help us now.
We cannot hope to understand
What is inherently senseless.
We can only try to acknowledge
The truth of it,
Bear witness to it,
The way the negative bears witness to the image.

We can only try
Not to turn away.

And yet there can be no doubt of our judgement here:
For the windows of our city
Shake with outrage,
And against such horror
Even the light is defiance.

We are afraid, yes,
But fear too is an affirmation –
The trembling of leaves
That denies the wind.

If our silence has been shattered
So that we no longer recognise ourselves in it;
If our very shadows
Have turned to ghosts;
Do you really think we shall let this defeat us?
Do you really think we shall give in
So easily?

No, tonight we shall find no comfort
In our own safety,
But live, in our imagination,
In a stranger’s house,
In a stranger’s place.

Except that there are no strangers now,
For the spilling of our common blood
Make us all family –
What we feel in these first moments
Is not sympathy,
But the grief of our own loss.

Time will mend all, we are told.
But Time cannot dismantle the explosions,
Or undo the pain;
Time can help us to forget,
But do we really want to?

It is up to us to retain
Our diminished humanity;
Up to us to recognise
That Death is not a visitor
We would wish on any other.

It is up to us to defuse
The anger ticking away inside us,
Waiting to explode.

It comes down to this then:
That we dare neither heal our wounds
Nor celebrate them;
That we can no longer tell
Relief from guilt,
Hope from complicity,
Moving on from desertion;

That our very need for prayer
Makes God impossible.

It comes down to this:
That the familiar ways are lost,
And the route back to peace
Is long and difficult.
It will be some time, at least,
Before all of us
Are safely home.

What can I do, in times like these, but write?

This post in special appreciation of the efforts of the folks at Mumbai Help, who did an amazing job last night of helping people get in touch with their loved ones.

16 comments:

insomniac said...

Well said. Very well said!

Ruchika said...

Really captures the essence of lives affected by this disaster..

Krithi said...

Innocent people, going about with their lives, simply don't come home to their families one day...what does anybody get out of THIS?

Falstaff, your words truly express our plight.

Neha said...

a prayer for those who died.
and one for those who survived.

Anonymous said...

No one is safe in this world. Its when things like this happen that we actually realise how fragile we are.
Such violence cant be termed mindless, it has a mind and it is a mind full of mangled thoughts about existence and justice. We need to address this, before anything else.
What makes a man kill so indiscriminately?
Whither lies the fault?? Who is to be blamed?? The terrorist outfits?? what makes them exist in the first place??? And how can civilized humans, inspite of all the progress, patronize such barbarism? As they say,All complex problems have a simple solution, and it is wrong..

Why doesnt the any body do a complete socio-psycho-political analysis of terrorism?? We should begin with the individual before we take on the organizations..

And, even though we might deny it, we shall soon forget this gross tragedy in a matter of days. Humanity has this spectacular ability to bounce back to normalcy aided by a penchant for mass amnesia.. Another investigation commission will be set up and soon the entire incident shall be wiped off the public's memory... until the next tragic strike..

30in2005 said...

It's a gift to write so beautifully of a time of such tragedy. We are older sadder and seemingly none the wiser for these atrocities.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

beautifully expressed

n said...

Falstaff
I've quoted from ur poem extensively at my blog. hope you don't mind.

Falstaff said...

insomniac, ruchika: Thanks

krithi: As I say - we cannot hope to understand this.

neha: Yes. Except that I don't actually believe in prayer.

anon: Yes. though I suspect there is more than one cause that drives someone to be a terrorist. Oh, and the fact that we have this ability to bounce back is actually rather a good thing. I doubt we would have survived without it.

30in2005: Thanks. And yes, we are.

shoe-fiend: Thanks

n: of course - you're more than welcome. And yes, as you say on your blog, regular blogging will continue tomorrow. Though I may not be able to meet Shoe-fiend's demand for fiction - the story I had in mind is a little, shall we say, inappropriate at this point.

confused said...

Falstaff,

At times likes these, I really envy you. At least, you have an outlet to express your outrage, your pain.

But I am glad, because you speak for all of us.

Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. I have to borrow this one too, to share with as many people as possible. And thank you for the Mumbai Help link, it made me feel proud of the way the people have come forward in the hour of need.

~N.

ggop said...

I'm very relieved to have been able to get in touch with family in Mumbai last night. The photos of missing persons on Mumbai help remind me how lucky I am not to lose anyone this time..

Thank you for the poem.
gayatri

Astha said...

"Except that there are no strangers now,
For the spilling of our common blood
Make us all family –
What we feel in these first moments
Is not sympathy,
But the grief of our own loss."

Amen.

So much sadness, so much anger...and then so much courage. Stories all around of people rallying together for one another. Sentiments reflecting unity and fortitude.

Feel very helpless sitting so far away...so there's little I can say I did. But I have never felt more pround of Indians...of the locals in Mumbai...of you guys for the Mumbai Help effort. Just wanted to say thanks.

Swathi said...

i appreciate the way u could articulate the feelings we all feel right now.

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