Volume 5: Number 2, July 21 2002.
Organizing Against Extremism
by Ashwini Tambe and Aparna Devare
Post 9/11
by Linta Varghese

Zionism, Hindutva and Imperialism
by Raja Harish Swamy

a poem by Jyotsna Kapur
Two Poems by Sukanto Bhattacharya
translated by Rini B. Mehta
Ghadar Home
proXsa Home


by Jyotsna Kapur

August 14th 1947. Firozepur, Punjab.
eighteen years old
sit alone and wait
for news of your parents
when they arrive days later
my grandfather, grandmother, and her brother
offer no explanation, no report, no narrative
of how
they ended up alive in a train from Lahore, Pakistan
Their arrival simply becomes a fact
--a fact
that even the children--my brother and I
learn never to question

November 1st 1984, Delhi
You wait again.
This time
with your parents, my mother, my brother, and I
murdering mobs parade the streets
announcing their arrival by rattling street lights
My grandfather sitting in front of the house
reads the newspaper, pretending oblivion
The neighbors demand he go inside
"I left once," he says,
"where am I to go now?"
I know, are afraid
But refuse to remove your turban or cut your hair--
as some neighbors and so-called friends suggest
You, who would not enter a temple
mock religion and even God
Say that you are a teacher
And do not wish to teach submission to fascism

September 11, 2001--to date. Delhi, India and
Carbondale, U.S.A
You wait there
And I--here
My brother who is visiting me
Finds again that wearing a turban invites the name
And, just as in 1984, he wants to be on the street
I wait here
for news of American bombs on Afghanistan
while the successors of Gandhi's assassins
rule his birthplace
drowning in blood the hopes of 1947
sowing land mines into the line your parents had
but one they would not let cross their hearts

Years later in 1972
my grandmother would visit that border again
pick up a handful of dirt and call it "home"
my brother and I would joke
that our grandmother created nations wherever she went
born in Burma she was twice a refugee
once in Pakistan, then India

Children know
that if not this history there would be another

But if not for those who labor to make this children's
belief come true
the only drops to fall on this desolate
drought-stricken earth would be
as I imagine you eighteen years old
I long to take your hands into my own grown ones
And walk into refugee camps where children still get

[Jyotsna is a professor at University of Illinois Carbondale.]

Top | Next