Seven Songs for New India

Painting: Estabrak Al Ansari

By Azhar Uddin Sahaji

Song 1 

If I write songs
Will that mend a heart?
If I write songs
Will it bring a revolution?
If I write songs
Will that feed the poor
Starving in the twenty-first century?
If I write songs
Will it release prisoners
Locked up in sheer vengeance?
If I write songs
Will blue orchids bloom
My favourite
Jasmine, too?
Yet, Azhar, sing
“I am the noisy one”
Azhar, be the boisterous one!


Song 2 

I sing of dust
And gust of hot wind
Of pierced hearts
I know, I shan’t be Virgil,
But that’s fine!

I sing of Time passing
And that heal wounds
Of scars on faces
I know, I shan’t be Dante
But that’s fine!

I sing of this city
Of Burnt faces in scorching heat
And lonely ladies struck in selfies
I know, I shan’t be Eliot
But that’s fine!

I sing of injustice
Of Murders hailed
And judges guilty of omission
I know, I shan’t be Bulleh
But that’s fine!

I sing of metro stations,
Of never dispersing crowds
And of a restless mind
I know, I shan’t be Whitman
But that’s fine!


Song 3 

I sing of bricks and stones;

 Of yellow neon lights

   folded up with the alleys…

               This city…

Where New India suddenly stopped

In the twenty-first century

Somewhere between you and me…


Song 4 

I sing of faces submerged on screens

And of a century stranded

Neon lights tell their colours

     Of perched hearts

     All of them aren’t red anymore

     They’re cloloured, variously


Eyes red, always.


Song 5

I sing of a simmering fear

Of iron; bars and bullets

Of blood or papers

I sing of a seize

Of Spring on hold

  Never know, how long shall it take.

  The blooming of jasmine

 And blue orchids

 Are on hold, too!


Song 6

I sing of a lonely man

His eyes are made of fire

Lion like his demeanor

And he is fond of hunting

Widely feared by birds and animals

He has cut all the flowers of the garden

And stopped Spring from coming

 And proved Pablo wrong.


Song 7

  I sing of Mephistopheles

  He has come to India

To trade consciousness …

Many God-fearing citizens

Bargaining souls open in the market

Prizes are delicious

   Rather safe…

With so many Fausts around!

Azhar Uddin Sahaji teaches English at Delhi University. He writes both in Bangla and English.


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Cafe Dissensus Everydayis the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.


Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

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