For Yara, Sanaa and All Your Comrades

Afrifem news, Blog, Campaign, Discussion, Protest/Activism

More than a year ago I heard one of India’s most powerful activist poets, K Satchidanandan, recite a poem he had written for Indian activist Irom Sharmila. Sharmila has been on hunger strike for the last fourteen years in protest against the brutal Armed Forces Special Powers Laws. Similar to you –and others like you, in Palestine, […]

More than a year ago I heard one of India’s most powerful activist poets, K Satchidanandan, recite a poem he had written for Indian activist Irom Sharmila. Sharmila has been on hunger strike for the last fourteen years in protest against the brutal Armed Forces Special Powers Laws. Similar to you –and others like you, in Palestine, in the U.S. and every corner of our world– she dares to stand against the brutality of state power. I hope you will draw strength from the knowledge that you stand alongside many of the greatest freedom fighters of our time.

Yara, what moved me about his poem is that it captures both the power and tenderness of revolution; I wanted to share it with you because though I met you only once I remember you as personifying this same rare combination.

For you and all those who struggle alongside you

In love and solidarity

Zandi Sherman

______

Yes (for Irom Sharmila) by K Satchidanandan
 
My body is
my flag at half-mast.
My water comes
from Tomorrow’s river,
my bread,
from the wind’s kitchen.
In my brain is a bullet,
green like the clairvoyante’s parrot.
 
My name is the last letter
of my ancient language,
the final answer to every riddle,
the moral of every proverb,
the god of every magic chant,
the ominous truth of every oracle.
 
My life leaves me everyday
and everyday it comes back
like the bird that survives the hunters
to return to its nest
with the odour of the forest-rain.
 
In the night emptied of
the morning’s greetings
and the evening’s prayers,
I lie alone under one desolate star
like the broken bench
in an abandoned village teashop
holding on still
to the warmth and odour
of yesterday’s visitors.
 
I have forgotten love
like the nameless flower
once seen in a flash
on a village hillock;
 
my childhood lies sunk in the sand
like the paper boat
pulped by the heavy rain.
 
My poems are the autumn’s
last yellow leaves.
 
My kids turned into vapour
by the echoes of rifles’ reports
will come down heavily
as a rain of blood
over those soldiers of hell.
 
I won’t be there; but
my hope will be :
a word from the mountain
that doesn’t need to be tube-fed,
a poem from the woods
no boots can crush,
an alphabet of steel
no bayonet can pierce,
a purple hibiscus:
 
My Manipur heart
ever in bloom.

 

 

 

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