Thursday, November 14, 2013

When skies wept blood

Hussain. Fifty-four, curly-headed, light-skinned, medium-height Hussain. History tells us he had a face and smile like his grandfather- it washed away your worries. It's the year 680, and Hussain stands alone on the plains of a deserted land far away from his home. His refusal to pledge allegiance to a tyrannical ruler brought him here. He has just lost his loved ones- one by one. First his most faithful companions- loyal friends who stayed by his side knowing full well the end in sight. Then his family-he used a piece of cloth to gather pieces of Qasim, his teenaged nephew, trampled under the enemy's horses' hooves. He held on to the speared chest of his eighteen-year-old Akbar and asked to listen to his beautiful voice one last time. He wept over his brave brother Abbas- watched as the flag he carried with courage fell with his cut hands. He held his six-month-old baby in his arms, tiny neck pierced with an arrow.

Now- Hussain stands alone, throat dry, heart torn. In the distance, he can hear the whimpers of the women and children from their tents. He can make out the voices of Sakina, his daughter; Zainab, his sister; Rabab, his wife. He knows they are thirsty, heart-broken and will soon be in the hands of the most merciless of people. So far he has sacrificed some of the closest to his heart for the sake of goodness, and soon he will sacrifice himself too. But before he gives his own life, he has one last message to leave. Hussain cups his hands around his mouth, and calls out in a loud, clear voice:

Is there anyone who will come to assist us? Is there anyone who will respond to our call? 

He repeats this four times- facing all directions. Who is this call for?

It is for us. A call to be carried forward over the generations. A call to fight against injustice in every time and space. To make sure that love and humanity prevail, even if it means having to make a sacrifice.

The Tragedy of Karbala is not simply an unfortunate event in history. It is the most important revolution. It is the only entirely self-less sacrifice by ultimate love against ultimate hatred. It is the only event that has been remembered from the beginning of time, and will continue to be remembered to the end. It is the only event in history that the sky turned red for, stones bled, and the snakes and the fishes in the sea mourned.

Today, millions around the world will be mourning Hussain- remembering his story, re-telling it in poems and eulogies and plays, re-enforcing his message, keeping it alive for yet another year. Some will choose ways to mourn that you will not like- hitting themselves with chains or swords to feel Hussain's pain. Whether this is appropriate or not is another story. To ignore the brutal killing of Hussain and his followers, the meaning of his sacrifice, and to instead focus on criticizing the way he is remembered in some places is distasteful. To reduce Hussain's sacrifice to mundane discussions is disrespectful.

As long as there are hearts in this world that continue to be moved by the fate of his loving self at the hand of his hateful oppressors, goodness has prevailed and Hussain and his message live on forever.




Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nature's Complaisance


It's not right what you say                            
Doing what you love isn't key                    
Clouds don't whine when it's time to go grey      
Nor the sand when it's whipped by the sea      

Doing what you love isn't key               
Planets throw no tantrums at routine       
Nor the sand when it's whipped by the sea       
We're the only ones making a scene       

Planets thrown no tantrums at routine       
Think they care about being 'truly content'?      
We're the only ones making a scene       
The only ones expressing dissent        

Think they care about being 'truly content'?        
It's not right what you say                             
Just love what you do; relent                    
Clouds don't whine when it's time to go grey    

___________________________________________

The above is a (humble) attempt at a pantoum. It is also a note to myself, in case this comes off as hypocritical!  


In other news, one of the poems I wrote on this blog back in January- Tell Me- has been published in an anthology entitled 'Cover to Cover- A Collection of Poems' by Forward Poetry Publishers (ISBN: 9781844186518), a copy of which will be available at the British Library and other libraries across the UK. I want to thank everyone who read it here- a special thank you to Laila, Loverofwords and Talitha for their very encouraging comments on the poem, and to Susan Kane for hanging it on her mirror!



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