A Song of Hatred

Originally Written here

Photograph by Kevin Frayer

The photographer Kevin Frayer explains the scene: “I arrived to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in mid-September, a few weeks into the #Rohingya crisis. I was looking for places to photograph food aid because there was such a need for it and so little of it around. I was in an area where there was a crowd of people surrounding a truck. The scene was quite chaotic; people were shouting and reaching because they were obviously distraught and hungry. There was a lot of pushing in the crowd and I wanted to get above it, so I climbed on the truck. That’s when I saw this small boy. He had just pulled himself up onto the truck and he was weeping. I couldn’t hear much because the scene was so loud, but at one point the boy reached out his hands, begging to the man standing over the food. Then, he wrapped his arms around the man’s legs, clinging to him. I was totally struck by it: he had clawed his way onto the truck in complete desperation. I wish I knew more about him, but he disappeared into the chaos of the moment.”

Us and them
Is what Nationalism has now fallen to
Their barbarism vs our culture
Their savagery vs our civilisation
Their invasion vs our tolerance
Their Abrahamic gods vs our transcendental greatness
Children are taught to hate
Rohingyas, Pakistanis, Muslims, even Dalits
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam we say,
But when refugees knock at doors
We send them back to persecution
After all, your place is your place and ours is ours
Throw out the illegal immigrants, they say
Mughals are villainous, they say
Atithi devo bhava they say,
Namaste they say,
Acknowledge the Brahman in all, they say
The greatest civilisation on earth
That shuts the door on the face of the destitute
None of us belonged here at one time!
Agriculture was unknown 12000 years ago
Our civilization was built by waves and waves of settlers
Be it Aryans or Mughals or Dravidians or Adivasis
What right do we have to say that someone doesn’t belong here
What right do we have to send them back
Women and children to rape and murder
The greatest civilisation on earth
With the blood of refugees and lynched Muslims
Splattered on our hands, countrymen!
Lines that were drawn by men long gone
Jinnah and Gandhi, may they rest in peace
Varnas resolved by sages long dead
What a pity these lines make us hate
These divisions make us unrelenting
Our hearts hardened with hatred
To the pain of real men and women
Hindustanis and Pakistanis
Same skin color, ethnic origins, language and food
Alike in every way
Yet how maginificent is the hatred we harbour
For ones across the line!
Our sides were chosen at random
By the randomness of birth
By the randomness of the sperm and egg that led to us
And the caste/religion/place their vessels were born to
A series of randomness that led to us
Yet how resolutely we have chosen sides
My religion is better than yours
My God is better than yours
You bow to me because I’m privileged
Privileged by the accident of birth
Another throw of the dice
We’d be born a Muslim/Dalit/Refugee
And for no fault of ours,
We’d be at the receiving end of our very own atrocities
We don’t choose our sides, we were born to it
Yet how carried away in our identities we are
How willfully we oppress the others
Allah and Ram are one and the same, Gandhi said
Different names for the same God, he said
Yet in a nation that calls him Father
We put in power those who divide
Left as an opposite to Hindu
Muslim as the antithesis of Hindu
Dangling before us like carrots on a stick
Ram Mandir vs Babri Masjid
Two alternatives, opposites, that can never coexist
Stamping in those lines into our hearts
Hard with designer shoes from eloquent election podiums
Hammering in our differences
Letting our hearts bleed with hatred
Drawing lines, dividing us
Yet fools that we are we pay heed to them
Fools that we are we dance to their tunes in unaware daze
The hatred in our hearts frozen in a trance
Taking fiery shapes to trample the ‘others’
All Indians are my brothers and sisters we swore
But the asterisks and qualifiers we are now revealed
We, and not they are true inheritors of India’s destiny
We, and not they are the bhagyavidhaata of Bharata
No one cares that we come from the same place!
They have been here as long as we have been
A country forged in diversity, unified in jingoism
A million colors subdued by an oppressive saffron
The tiranga traded in for the bhagwa
Tamil and Kashmiri crushed by a colloquial Hindi
A simmering delicacy of beef, dosa and chicken tikka
Tossed aside for a politically correct Khichdi
Today we live in Godse’s India, not Gandhi’s India
Today our people’s representatives bow down to Savarkar
The same Savarkar that swore to serve the crown of Britain
And crush the struggle for Indian sovereignty
Today they are king who orchestrate riots and fake encounters
Religion that makes it acceptable to trample a full womb
Pull out and char an unborn foetus by the cord of life,
Its ashes washed away in a drain, the lost foetus
Blood on our arms and our heads hung in shame
In our India, foetuses too are branded with religion
Religion that makes it acceptable to pelt stones at benign children
How depraved are we as a civilisation
How fallen are we as a culture
Causes so big that we never hesistate to harm children!
Today they are king who hoodwink an imperfect judiciary
Like a puppet master that pulls at strings
Through loop holes and dead/hostile witnesses
Today they are king who disowned our constitution
Dropping adjectives stealthily
The windows of transparency
That we celebrated as a forthcoming of democracy
Too were given an obstinate coat of saffron paint
In a world of PR campaigns and alternative facts
When will truth prevail?
Satyam kadaa vijayate?
Is there more to India than Hindi, Hindu and Hindutva?
When will the day come when Bharat mata be restored to her glory
When she realises as a tolerant, forgiving mother
That protects one and all in her bosom
That treats each child the same
A place for those who seek peace
When do we grow above the pettiness
And truly become one family!
Truly become Vasudhaive Kutumbakam!