The Sin Of Omission: My Take On The Warnings Faiz And Dinkar Gave Us

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I wrote this poem after the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Whatever be one’s views on the removal of Article 370 and one’s level of compassion for the people of Kashmir, the subsequent attack on the right to speech and expression in the Valley should unease every Indian.

If the government can take away a Kashmiri’s fundamental rights in the name of security, what stops it from taking away your rights tomorrow? After what has happened in the recent months, from the CAA-NRC, Jamia and JNU violence and the declining economy, no Indian can afford the luxury of being ‘apolitical.’ To be silent is equivalent to an active support and justify these kinds of acts.

A protestor holds up a placard with the titular line of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhenge. (Photo: mubeen_sidd/Instagram)

The deafening silence after demonetisation and the Kashmir crackdown seems to have only strengthened their demonic spirits. A lot of poets have warned us against this sin of omission, like Faiz (“aaj bazaar mein…”) and Dinkar (“samar shesh hai…”). This poem is intended to be a reminder of their words.

उन्होंने तुम्हारी ख़ामोशी को
तुम्हारी दाद बताया है
पिंजरे में मशरूफ तुम्हारे कदमों को
अपने साथ बताया है

उन्होंने बेरोज़गार सूखे गाँवों को
सैकड़ों फुट ऊँचे बुतों को
लहुलूहान फूटे सरों को
उनके लाखों रुपयों के सूटों को
देश की नयी पहछान बताया है
और तुम्हारी ख़ामोशी को
अपनी दाद बताया है

उन्होंने टूटे हुए तारों को
काँटों के बाड़ों को
खाली अखबारों को
सन्नाटे से चीखती
गलियों को
आजादी का जश्न बताया है
और तुम्हारी ख़ामोशी को
अपनी दाद बताया है

समय देश के दावानल में
तुम्हारी चुप्पी का भी हाथ बताएगा
समय शिला से निःशब्द लबों को
क़ातिल का हथियार बताएगा
समय तुम्हारे बंद हाथों में
खूनी तलवार बताएगा

आज तुम्हारी ख़ामोशी को
वो अपनी दाद बताया है
पिंजरे में मशरूफ तुम्हारे क़दमों को
वो अपने साथ बताते हैं

Here’s a translation:

They have perverted your silence
Into self-promotion
They have claimed the alliance of
Your steps in aimless motion

They say
That the dried unemployed villages
The statues hundreds feet tall
The cracked and bleeding heads
Theirs suits of rupees lakhs
Are the signs of a great new nation
And they have perverted your silence
Into self-promotion

They have said
That the broken wires
The fences on the gardens
The empty newspapers
The streets screaming
With silence
Are the grand celebrations of freedom
And they have perverted your silence
Into self-promotion

Time will blame your silence
For the burning of this nation
Your lips, speechless as stones
Will be counted as their weapons
Time will hand a bloody sword
Onto your tied arms

Today they have perverted your silence
Into self-promotion
They have claimed the alliance of
Your steps in aimless motion

You can hear a recitation of the poem here:

About the author: Himanshu Badhani is a PhD student at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) Chennai.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: mubeen_sidd/Instagram.
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