Three Poems

    By Lina Krishnan

    1. I am who I am

    I will see people’s faces change
    When I tell them who I am
    I will hear my neighbours tell
    Their children, not to play
    With mine

    I will hear those same
    Children ask me
    Baba, are you, are we
    Muslims?

    I will live with that sound
    And with their hurt faces
    And their hushed whispers
    As they ponder, this new identity
    Or lack of one, now

    I am an Indian Muslim
    Or, a Muslim in India
    Some say there is a difference

    Change the Mughal Sarai’s name, if you like
    Abstract ideals, all these
    The tapestry of a common heritage
    Lies unspooled

    What’s in a name, anyway?

    Except when it’s mine
    My name
    A name to die for

    2. War Clouds

    Of late, the love songs
    That dominated the air waves
    Seem to be on fadeout

    The announcers talk
    Of blood & tears
    Patriotism & sacrifice
    They play marching songs back to back
    And don’t even tell you the singers’ names

    A glutinous ecstasy is oozing here
    A dangerous lather of jingoism games
    If radio is like this, what must TV be like?
    With ratings for every death-to-be?

    Like cheering Romans at the Colosseum
    We wait for the battle lines to be drawn
    War seems to be in the air
    And on air too

    3. Adda Nights in Bangalore

    Friends from a long way
    Both distance and years
    Much to catch up on

    Dosas mingle with laughter
    A rainbow elicits wonder
    We swop hows, wheres

    Dystopia stalks the pauses
    Settling down like an unwanted visitor
    The chill of a curfewed land, in our minds

    How many furrows
    Have these few years made
    How many more will cleave us

    Yet we need these visits
    Rare séances with the kindred few.
    At least, a shared sorrow, remains our own

    Lina Krishnan is an artist and poet in Auroville. These poems traverse time, and to the poet are a sort of diary of the years under the lid. I am who I am was written for Junaid, still a sore spot in many hearts. War Clouds is the periodic atmosphere surrounding every country, while Adda Nights provide the occasional succour.

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