About a Mosque
But how would you remove this mosque?
In our dreams it shall come back like a dead child and ask:
Dad, where does all that blood come from?
There are layers of land under this land
Layers of emotion obliterated with time
And you will find roots like fingers
Embracing the murderous shovel:
Brother, you would kill me?
Why would you kill me, brother?
Look, we do not need to remove the mosque;
Better that we go on exile—all of us--
Leaving this twin city uninhabited
Burnt earth, dwelling houses bereft of memory—
That is the kingdom we leave behind!
The darkness swoons with heavy smell of
The four hundred year-old fool
Falling riddled with bullets again
Cries out in agony: Hai Ram!
No, no more can this mosque be removed!
Dear comrades, friends, well-wishers,
The above poem, translated from Bengali, was read at a memorial meeting for Safdar Hashmi organised by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust in Delhi just a year after his death. The Babri Masjid was still standing in its place at that time, but howls demanding its demolition so that a temple for Rama might be built on the same site were already growing in strength. That phase seems to have now come full cycle with the Prime Minister of India himself having betrayed his oath to the nation as Prime Minister triumphantly to lay the foundation stone for the promised temple. Yet I think the poor poem had a grain of truth in it. That mosque is not for removing! It is a living presence for us not as the religious structure it happened to be, but as the emblem of all that has been betrayed, our Freedom Struggle and the Constitution that emerged out of it.
It is time for us to say: No Pasaran! We shall not allow this barbarism to pass! We have been with struggles waged by the trade unions. We have rallied together with the People’s Science Movement. On 28 August we have joined with like-minded women’s organisations all over the country to demand freedom from this atrocious rule of fear and oppression. But this is just the beginning. We shall still surely see the women of India rising to be in the forefront of what might well be our second Freedom Struggle. We want our newsletter to be a fit weapon in their hands.
Malini Bhattacharya President, All India Democratic Women’s Association