By Sabyasachi Nag
(For Afrazul Khan 1972-2015)
In Rajsamand, Shambhu Regar swings a pickaxe precisely.
Zul is dead in a heap – making daily wage twenty years.
Regar points his eyes to light, his chin patch cocked
His shirt, red like some axe just out’ oven; his white pant has dirt
His dark locks dripping sweat; his fingers move fast.
He strikes again the unmoving corpse before starting a fire.
Then a rant about thousand more deaths to come –
Or have they come already and gone, bothering no one?
From the video it’s hard to tell– who stands for what?
Don’t listen to him his brother says – love has screwed him hard.
His lawyer says he can actually prove the insanity; he needs help.
Police say don’t pay rumorers; they are investigating.
Meanwhile, Zul’s loud wails play on phones and in ears
Of the thirteen-year-old that recorded Regar resisting love jihad.
And the eleven-year-old who’s holding on Regar through the hack.
And the eighteen-year-old back in Bengal waiting for Zul to move
Out of heap, shake up, run daddy run – or just say it was farce.
For Mohammaed Akhlaq (1963-2015)
I went to the fridge. I opened the door.
There on the shelves – I showed them one by one
Ten pieces of dried fish my father got –
For setting straight some bloke’s broken bike –
A pot of curd my mother made each night –
before it all happened – before she went to bed;
Ripe tomatoes and blanched carrots
Both from the neighbour’s yard; milk in a metal cup;
Mangoes; and meat inside a metal box –
Goat I said, Goat, swear to God, that was goat
Make no mistake, I said that;
Get out you oaf, they pushed me aside
Rushed upstairs – they weren’t that many or maybe they were.
We knew them all, all of them we knew, were there
And they knew what they were looking for.
They pulled him out, my father, talking in sleep.
They hammered his head with bricks that stood his bed –
His head and my brother’s face –
Splashes of blood spilt over rice; the fridge overturned;
Broken sewing machine – that’s all there is to say about that.
They came. They knew. We knew them.
They weren’t many. A few, they wanted blood.
(after John Foster’s I went to the Fridge)
For Tabrez Ansari (1995-2019)
In Karsova, Tabrez Ansari is tied to a pole and flogged
On suspicion of stealing a bike. The man
Entrusted with the sentence swings and strikes each time
Tabrez makes a slow lunge at the trajectory of the cane –
Shaking his head as the enforcer implores
To chant after him – Jai Shri Ram. Jai Hanuman –
The mob chants along in prayer, fists whipping white-hot air
Until the hand that’s fending off the cane goes still
And the windpipe, finally broken, sputters – blood first
Muffled by the rush of words, blood-prayer. By the time
Police arrives, the mob has switched channels, gone to bed.
The limp twine noosed on the pole is evidence
Tabrez is still breathing. When doctors see him
His doe eyes splayed like the dark night with two stars
Wide apart and buoying inch by inch to come closer –
Stitch me up he demands of them, Don’t let me fall asleep!
They shake their heads in disbelief.
They have not seen anyone put so much weight on words.
Sabyasachi Nag is the author of two books of poetry: Bloodlines(Writers Workshop, 2006) and Could You Please, Please Stop Singing (Mosaic Press, 2015). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in several anthologies and publications including, The Antigonish Review, Canadian Literature, Contemporary Verse 2, Grain, Emerge Anthology, Perihelion, R.kv.r.y Quarterly, The Squaw Valley Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Void and the VLQ. A native of Calcutta, India, Sachi lives in Mississauga, Ontario with his wife and son. He is a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and a graduate of the Writer’s Studio at Simon Frazer University. He works in human resources and education.
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