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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