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Aug 15 2013

Remembering those days

India got independence from the British in 1947. But the independence brought the partition, based on religion. Pakistan was for Muslims. India was for Hindus. The political leaders of India believed in two nation theory. But the war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 proved that two nation theory was a wrong theory and Muslim unity was a myth. The leaders thought that the conflicts people had would be solved if only they could divide the land where people lived for thousands of years together. But they were wrong. A million people died during the partition. Hatred increased over the years. Muslim and Hindu fundamentalism grew more than ever. And after 66 years of the partition, now we see that India and Pakistan get nuclear bombs, Indians are in constant fear of Pakistani terrorists, Pakistanis are getting killed by talibans and drone attacks, Bangladesh’s secular fabric has been destroyed by the Islamists.

If there were no partition of India, there would not have any war in Bangladesh. 3 million people would not have been killed, and 200,000 women would not have been raped.
Today I am celebrating Independence Day of India by reciting ‘September on Jessore Road’, the poem written by Allen Ginsberg while remembering all the deaths and the homelessness of Bengalis.

Millions of babies watching the skies
Bellies swollen, with big round eyes
On Jessore Road–long bamboo huts
Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts

Millions of fathers in rain
Millions of mothers in pain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of sisters nowhere to go

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One Million aunts are dying for bread
One Million uncles lamenting the dead
Grandfather millions homeless and sad
Grandmother millions silently mad

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Millions of daughters walk in the mud
Millions of children wash in the flood
A Million girls vomit & groan
Millions of families hopeless alone

Millions of souls nineteenseventyone
homeless on Jessore road under grey sun
A million are dead, the million who can
Walk toward Calcutta from East Pakistan

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Taxi September along Jessore Road
Oxcart skeletons drag charcoal load
past watery fields thru rain flood ruts
Dung cakes on treetrunks, plastic-roof huts

Wet processions Families walk
Stunted boys big heads don’t talk
Look bony skulls & silent round eyes
Starving black angels in human disguise

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Mother squats weeping & points to her sons
Standing thin legged like elderly nuns
small bodied hands to their mouths in prayer
Five months small food since they settled there

on one floor mat with small empty pot
Father lifts up his hands at their lot
Tears come to their mother’s eye
Pain makes mother Maya cry

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Two children together in palmroof shade
Stare at me no word is said
Rice ration, lentils one time a week
Milk powder for warweary infants meek

No vegetable money or work for the man
Rice lasts four days eat while they can
Then children starve three days in a row
and vomit their next food unless they eat slow.

b71-

On Jessore road Mother wept at my knees
Bengali tongue cried mister Please
Identity card torn up on the floor
Husband still waits at the camp office door

Baby at play I was washing the flood
Now they won’t give us any more food
The pieces are here in my celluloid purse
Innocent baby play our death curse

Two policemen surrounded by thousands of boys
Crowded waiting their daily bread joys
Carry big whistles & long bamboo sticks
to whack them in line They play hungry tricks

Breaking the line and jumping in front
Into the circle sneaks one skinny runt
Two brothers dance forward on the mud stage
Teh gaurds blow their whistles & chase them in rage

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Why are these infants massed in this place
Laughing in play & pushing for space
Why do they wait here so cheerful & dread
Why this is the House where they give children bread

The man in the bread door Cries & comes out
Thousands of boys and girls Take up his shout
Is it joy? is it prayer? “No more bread today”
Thousands of Children at once scream “Hooray!”

Run home to tents where elders await
Messenger children with bread from the state
No bread more today! & and no place to squat
Painful baby, sick shit he has got.
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Malnutrition skulls thousands for months
Dysentery drains bowels all at once
Nurse shows disease card Enterostrep
Suspension is wanting or else chlorostrep

Refugee camps in hospital shacks
Newborn lay naked on mother’s thin laps
Monkeysized week old Rheumatic babe eye
Gastoenteritis Blood Poison thousands must die

September Jessore Road rickshaw
50,000 souls in one camp I saw
Rows of bamboo huts in the flood
Open drains, & wet families waiting for food

Border trucks flooded, food cant get past,
American Angel machine please come fast!
Where is Ambassador Bunker today?
Are his Helios machinegunning children at play?

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Where are the helicopters of U.S. AID?
Smuggling dope in Bangkok’s green shade.
Where is America’s Air Force of Light?
Bombing North Laos all day and all night?

Where are the President’s Armies of Gold?
Billionaire Navies merciful Bold?
Bringing us medicine food and relief?
Napalming North Viet Nam and causing more grief?

Where are our tears? Who weeps for the pain?
Where can these families go in the rain?
Jessore Road’s children close their big eyes
Where will we sleep when Our Father dies?

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Whom shall we pray to for rice and for care?
Who can bring bread to this shit flood foul’d lair?
Millions of children alone in the rain!
Millions of children weeping in pain!

Ring O ye tongues of the world for their woe
Ring out ye voices for Love we don’t know
Ring out ye bells of electrical pain
Ring in the conscious of America brain

How many children are we who are lost
Whose are these daughters we see turn to ghost?
What are our souls that we have lost care?
Ring out ye musics and weep if you dare–

Cries in the mud by the thatch’d house sand drain
Sleeps in huge pipes in the wet shit-field rain
waits by the pump well, Woe to the world!
whose children still starve in their mother’s arms curled.

Is this what I did to myself in the past?
What shall I do Sunil Poet I asked?
Move on and leave them without any coins?
What should I care for the love of my loins?

b71--

What should we care for our cities and cars?
What shall we buy with our Food Stamps on Mars?
How many millions sit down in New York
& sup this night’s table on bone & roast pork?

How many millions of beer cans are tossed
in Oceans of Mother? How much does She cost?
Cigar gasolines and asphalt car dreams
Stinking the world and dimming star beams–

Finish the war in your breast with a sigh
Come tast the tears in your own Human eye
Pity us millions of phantoms you see
Starved in Samsara on planet TV
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How many millions of children die more
before our Good Mothers perceive the Great Lord?
How many good fathers pay tax to rebuild
Armed forces that boast the children they’ve killed?

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How many souls walk through Maya in pain
How many babes in illusory pain?
How many families hollow eyed lost?
How many grandmothers turning to ghost?

How many loves who never get bread?
How many Aunts with holes in their head?
How many sisters skulls on the ground?
How many grandfathers make no more sound?

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How many fathers in woe
How many sons nowhere to go?
How many daughters nothing to eat?
How many uncles with swollen sick feet?

Millions of babies in pain
Millions of mothers in rain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of children nowhere to go

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9 comments

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  1. 1
    garga

    A poignant post

  2. 2
    DsylexicHippo

    Ginsberg’s poem and the heartrending pictures brought tears to my eyes. Horrific man-made insanity.

  3. 3
    deera

    Horrifying. And those of us in the West should not be so smug as to think we are immune to such tragedy.

  4. 4
    K K Singh

    Dr Taslima, hats off to you and salute to you for writing wonderful and apt essay-what is happening around India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh-your this informative piece will go a long way, thanks

  5. 5
    Thiru_navu

    I don’t find much differences between India,Pak,Bangaladesh and Srilanka. All these countries can live together sharing resources. Unfortunately the religion factor divided all. It is a national loss whenever any country does not treat men and women equally. Religions favors and side with men. Women are at receiving end. 50% human resource is not used but abused. :(

    South India and Gujarat are somewhat better comparing other parts of the country.
    Wish you all the best in your efforts.

  6. 6
    Golam Rahman

    Great Britain rejected the proposal Gandhi Total Independence of India. In 1944 the British government agreed to grant independence to the condition that the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress resolve their differences. Gandhi initially disagreed that India was separated into two, but two “Leader” ambitious Nehru and Jinnah had their minds other thoughts who studied in Britain, you cannot forget the open and secret agreements between two leaders with advice of British using method, what way be separate India. They put in the mind of the followers with finger “You are Hindu and he is Muslim, are not brothers, even they all lived together for centuries without much problem. They poisoned the mind and created fanaticism. Are they Nehru and Jinnah? They arranged hundreds of thugs, with money and property ownership. Where were Hindu majority Muslim family disappeared and vice versa, sacrificed thousands of Hindus and Muslims Families. Jinnah and Nehru divided INDIA 1947 and responsible for those genocide. The same story occurring all over the world in the interest of a few “Leader” by those who greed for power! Of course that includes money! At the end also murdered Gandhi by that group using a hitman name Nathura Vinayak Godse. Besides the division was unfair part of Bengal and Kashmir for exclusively ignorance of Jinnah. The same stories are in Bangladesh but not separate that little land but its people’s minds. Nobody knows how far will go this hatred for one another in Bangladesh?

  7. 7
    Rana pratap99999

    Dear Taslima, tragic and painfull it is and well written also. But you have failed to put your finger on the Main Culprit in these entire tragedies.. Islam. Though all religions think they are divinely ordained and create problems for those not in their worldview, but the so called religion of Islam has been the most violent and destructive force known to mankind in recent history. No other religion in MODERN times has rioted, killed thousands, destroyed properties just because some one drew a bad cartoon..has killed people for leaving their religion… Islam certainly is the most dangerous cult as of now, and the scary part is it is followed by a billion plus followers who are getting more and more restless. In india’s partition context, the followers of the mohammedian religion were the ones to demand a separate homeland. The inherent violent streak did not end was amply prooved in the war of bangladesh, and the present going on in ‘Pak’istan, which is almost 100 % muslim, where all sorts of muslims are killing all sorts of other muslims because they think the others are not muslims enough. Yes they will ultimately end up destroying themselves, but by then all other cultures and civilisation would cease to exist..Do we wait for that to happen ??

  8. 8
    Rana pratap99999

    Your comment is awaiting moderation….
    Ha ha…thought it was a free thought blog !!! Guess you do not want to offend ‘anyone’

  9. 9
    nathanaelnerode

    The moment the Muslim League refused to join the Indian National Congress, the partition became unavoidable. :-(

    The British were fed up and were unwilling to do a careful job of partition, they just wanted out at this point; this is also why Kashmir was not allowed to remain independent even though the prince wanted to and it might have been much better off.

    Pakistan, named “pure land” or “holy place” depending on translation, is a country created by the worst sort of fanatics — who else would come up with that name? Unfortunately they were already present and causing trouble in the 1940s.

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