Two poems by Huzaifa Pandit

I am no Yusuf, Father

I am no Yusuf, Father
My brothers aren’t content to push me down the well.
They tear me – tender limb to tender limb
with their sleeved hands sharp as the crescent
and fling my torn body down the well.
I have lain in this well, since a century. Many caravans have found me,
sewn me back together, and thundered my soul back into me.
Many conjurers have exhibited me, then sold me
to the slippery mirrors of deceived history.
Father, will Azeez buy me and accord me my liberty?

I am no Yusuf, Father
I dream of no sun or the moon, nor does the evening star bend before me.
I dream of apple orchards on fire in ripe autumn. I dream of winter droughts
with the sky wound tight against my wintering heart and the rebel’s silhouette in the executioner’s yard.
Who will interpret my dream, Father? I am no Yusuf, Father.
I lie expectant in the dungeon, but the cupbearer has no use for me. The king never dreams now
and sleeps light in his fortified bed, the guards assure me.
Day and night slither in through the skylight but carry no hoopoe song.
No song that carries the broken horizon in its fertile beak
no song that foretells fearful kings will judge me. I am no Yusuf, Father.

All the snows of December are not enough to wipe the bloodstains off me.
My brothers no longer blame the wolf,
They own all responsibility. Why do they rage against me father?
I only said: I dreamt of daisies on every window of the city.
I dreamt spring whispered its secret fragrance to me
as it rained her shadows in the mirrors
bred in every corner of the city.
I am no Yusuf, Father. I can dream no prophecy.


Here is a present

Lamps were blown out in such times before too
Pray for the welfare of hearts, great is the sorrow of Night.
~ Firaaq Gorakhpuri

Here is a present grieved by yesterday
and tomorrow.
After the last law, the radio informed
absence will soon dole out 50,000 reincarnations.
We have amended the ledger of our blood.
When we inquired of the numerals
being herded off in policed lorries beyond
the tunnel of our shame,
we were instructed to polish our hands
to pick locks fashioned from air.

Here is a present
which plunges into the pit of strange words
to draw out curses for our forefathers.
The paper worms spit out the silver hearts
of maps, we smuggled through detained windows.
Perhaps they remember when we stormed out
of the barricaded gates like the west wind
and tore the pavements to pieces.

Here is a present
On which the resigned soldiers sling their rifles
And prepare a hasty dinner
from fires mounted on armoured rakshaks.
Perhaps we too will be fed
once the sparrows bite our famished mouths.


Huzaifa Pandit is a student of resistance poetry who dabbles in translation and academic prose. 

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