Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Coffee in Times of War...

Just the other day a friend asked
Have you ever tried war poetry?
War, I said, I haven’t seen one.
I was only born in seventy-one.
I’ve often seen pictures –
Oh why pictures! Even a painting
in a restaurant once –
of a Sikh General
making the Pakistanis
sign the surrender.
And then I grew up
reading lessons, history
about World War One and World War Two,
Plassey, Panipat, Waterloo,
War & Peace, The Day of Armistice,
the ancient tales of the Mahabharata,
the Muharram majlises, Karbala.

But then who needs textbooks?
Television brings live - Beirut.
And if this isn’t enough there are movies –
A Bridge Too Far, Platoon, Killing Fields.

But no, I have never seen a war.
I don’t know what it means
to sit through blackouts, power outages,
to hold my breath and wait
for a bomb to detonate.
I don't know what it means
to have splinters of plastic and tin
pierce through my clothes, skin.
I don't know what it means
to lose an eye, to lose a limb.
I haven’t seen my child without her head.
I don’t know what it means
when a mother grieves for her dead.
The closest I have seen a man’s guts
split wide open was from a scene
in a movie called Saving Private Ryan.

I don’t know what it means
to run from desk to desk
in a dank office corridor
asking for compensation
for a son dead in a war.

I don’t know…

My words trailed in the wispy heat
of Delhi’s August afternoon street.

I am afraid I am not qualified
to consider myself a war poet.

My friend cursed himself
for bringing this topic up,
dunked his biscuit in his coffee,
as I waved to the waiter,
May we have more of these, please!

© Dan Husain
August 23, 2006

18 comments:

wallray said...

That is a great poem on on war. The way media brings it to our face is as close as i want to get. keep writing.

csperez said...

just read this over at poets against terrorism, do you want to link blogs?

blindelephant.blogspot.com

peace

Enemy of the Republic said...

This is great. I haven't visited your blog for a while--so much happening---very powerful and very much in line with what I know you are trying to do.

ozymandiaz said...

I have read this over and over here and at WAT. I have wondered if I would be able to comment. it is a dificult thing this is. There is so much honesty here and I can relate. It is amny a writers consternation I believe. How to write about something not personaly experienced, especially something so profound and absolutely life altering. There is almost a lament to not experiencing such horrors so as to be empowered to write about them.
But you know what
I personally will write about them
Not having experienced
I shall write about war
And pray thankful everyday it is not at my doorstep
I shall write about war
In hopes of keeping it at bay.
Thank you for such an insightfull poem.

shikha said...

great poetry!

lovemarks said...

Have not commented on this poem either here or at WAT simply because I do not know what to say!
Oye, compliment diya! :)

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

What comes from the heart goes to the heart, Danish, You have put into words what most peaceloving writers feel. God bless!

farrukh

Who Wrote That?

Blue Athena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
iamnasra said...

Me too I have gone away from your blog for a long time..I wonder why is it that I have not come not because I dont like being here but got distracted with self...Thank you for your lovely poem....

Its amazing to read it ...you go beyond and see the reality of war starring right at you

khushwant Sharma said...

nice prose sprinkled with nice words

N said...

Visiting after a while. Lovely poem. ~ Anindita

sigmund fraud said...

I liked this one. Interesting. Thought provoking.

asuph said...

mian aap to guru ho!

this one is amzaing. it's one of your best poems that i've read, way up there. you exhibit the power of poetry, of simple words arranged rightly. i'm lost for words...

amazing...

asuph

Anonymous said...

Danish...I would love to share this poem with some friends. May I?
Take care
atreyee

Anonymous said...

Waiting to hear you recite this... yes, war poetry!
Profound:-)

Nahida Sunil said...

Very impressed with this insightful poem... great stuff!

Nahida Sunil said...

Just chanced upon your site and loved this poem. Truly insightful! Great work, keep it going!

shikha said...

I read this again today...could not resist reading twice!!!!

I would want to hear you recite this...!!!