Academic journal article Cross / Cultures

Puppet's Life Ends on String

Academic journal article Cross / Cultures

Puppet's Life Ends on String

Article excerpt

The lone surviving gunman of 26/11 was hanged at Pune's Yerawada Jail at 7.30 am on Wednesday. Asked for his last wish the 25-year-old terrorist from Faridkot village in Pakistan's Punjab province said: "Gharwalon ko milna hai" (I want to meet my family)

Times of India (22 November 2012)

See: they recur, approach and recur beyond terror and grave,

The low tin roofs and ambient wheatfields,

The hills and goat-filled alleys of remembered infancy -

And soon - but here they are already,

Filling their water-pots, tending to their goats,

Those I could not forgive for being so poor,

So blind to my rage; for refusing

To see themselves reflected in my hate.

They cannot see me now, of course,

Capering through barbed wire and thin mud walls -

But this is hardly strange;

It was so much like this when I lived amongst them,

Only suddenly more acceptable now.

What is strange is being unable to feel the cold they feel,

The fireside warmth, as winter comes over us,

Here in Faridkot, village of my birth, visited once

And blessed for all time - as my mother

Never forgot to mention at meals - by the Sufi,

Baba Farid, mystic of the floating basket,

Whose rapt levitations I marvelled at as a child,

And whose spirit I spat upon when I turned fourteen:

There was so little left by then in our lives to praise,

And his talk of delight in poverty had come to seem

Like senseless rant; the little land we owned sold

For so little, our torn pockets empty, our jackets threadbare,

As we stared, half-starved, at the full moon of Id, with no goats

Left to slaughter or sell, or barter for new clothes and sweets;

No money for cooking-oil or kerosene, then none for wheat;

And then, to top it all, that hard, unoutstareable look

In the eyes of a tribal girl, which could only mean no, never,

Not good enough, never will be - Baba Farid,

Whom I dismissed as a fake when I turned into a man,

And whose verse the living still lift their arms to,

In the warmth of winter fires at Faridkot! …

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