Monday, 27 June 2016

Dinshaway, 27th June 1906





I’ve never been to Dinshaway, some places
are like that, unvisited, widely unknown;
but when their names are taken, a line of faces
hovers over memory, as if they’re my own.


Perhaps I was among the flock of pigeons
which took the bullets for the soldiers’ sport;
I was the burnt grain; the trailing smidgen 
of smoke, the shock at the sentence of the court.


Maybe I was the wood that got hammered -
unwillingly nailed into the scaffold;
the mother’s final lament; the child’s last word;
the crowd’s last gasp at the rope’s stranglehold.


Not the key, nevertheless, a witness;
I was there when the bodies twitched, lifeless.




This is, in a way, a response poem to Cavafy's 27th June, 2 p.m. In another, it's a response to an old news story that feels like a recollection, dredged up from the deepest layers of deja vu-ness.  An 'incident' that sowed the seeds of a different Brexit. It slotted into me like a missing link of memory the first time I heard it; and it continues to move me, no doubt because there are very similar tales from pre-independent India.  I mean, that must be the rational explanation.







18 comments:

  1. I believe that witnesses often ARE the key. A witness who is prepared to testify, calls people to become accountable. Always a good thing.
    Love your empathic heart.

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    1. Agree, that's assuming a free and fair judicial system though. This court at Dinshaway was a sham, they actually penalised witnesses whose testimonies did not suit their purpose. More than 50 odd men were sentenced, four of them to death, the youngest a teenager. Heart wrenching really. Brought wide spread condemnation in Britain, and gave the Egyptian nationalists something to rally around.

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  2. It touches a chord and brings into the conscious mind every news clip,story or family anecdote I've seen, heard or read on an execution or mindless kill. You paint a graphic picture.

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    1. Exactly, Rina!! Reminded me so much of Khudiram Bose, though the circs are completely different. Great to see you here :)

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  3. Yes, you painted a very detailed picture. I think you were there.

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    1. I definitely was. A fly on the wall. In some other life :)

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  4. something is very deep in your soul. And now you brought us in to witness too.

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    1. Yup, a deep-ish sense of deja vu...layered in there somewhere in the subconscious..

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  5. What a horrid thing to happen in Dinshaway, and much more than an 'incident'! Why is it that hate is so prevalent when love is what's written about, sung about and desired by all? Doesn't it make sense that what you give is what you get? When, oh when, will we learn!
    Maybe your poem is a memory? Maybe once, in another life we were all witness? And yet, our learning still isn't done!

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    1. Those were entirely different times. different standards of morality, values and behaviour altogether. Discrimination was no big deal, daily ration for most ordinary people. We have come a long way since then, thank goodness, though there is still much hate and we have lots left to learn!

      My poem does feel very much like a memory! :) some other life...

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  6. Striking realism there! I agree with Alex. It's as if you were there.

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  7. Very impressive. You captured a tale in meter

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    1. Thank you. But every tale has a meter...just have to keep my ears tuned for it :)

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  8. Sometimes there just isn't a rational inspiration for our wayward thoughts, is there? Some incidents just stick; we can't get the images out of our mind. Writing about them, about our reactions, is one way to try to make sense of the senseless. You inspire us with your poetic pen.

    Hi Nila! Hope you're doing well!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Hi Denise! All well this end :) Good to see you here...to be perfectly honest, most of the inspiration is completely irrational :) no discernible rhyme or reason :D Hope you're doing great too!

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  9. What a horrible tragedy--almost Shakespearean in the misunderstandings and horrifying outcome. The poem captures the outsiders viewpoint in a haunting way.

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    1. Wilful misunderstanding...and injustice on a mass scale. Truly tragic!

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