statement of dead man in Gujarat

Gujarat riots 2002

Earlier too, I used to die, bit by bit

From the childhood, a bit of living and a bit of dying

Endless search to live was the life I had

When I was completely burnt to death

Till then I had no idea about such uses of fire

I dyed clothes, fabrics, their weave, their warp and weft

I repaired outsized cinematic shapes

decorating the market square

I made colorful wooden swings out of broken things

And dancing sticks for Garba too

With Aluminium wires I crafted small little toy bicycles for children

And in return I would get a pair of slippers, a lungi

I wore it in the day and covered myself with it at night

sharing half of it with my wife

My wife got incinerated first

she stood in front of me trying to save me

And I’ve no idea when my children got killed

They were so young that I did not even hear their screams

I don’t know what happened to the skills which my hands had

I don’t know about my hands

the life in them, the shiver, that was the art they had

And I was killed in the same way

As were the others, all together

My life had no larger purpose

But the way I was killed seemed to have that large purpose

And when they asked me who was I

Have you hidden the name of the enemy inside yourself

A Religion, A talisman

I couldn’t say that I had nothing inside me

Just a dyer, a craftsman, an artists, a worker

When I was repairing something broken inside me

When tiny wheels of the toy bicycle cycle made of Aluminium wire

rushed inside me

They rained fire and stones

And when I spread my hands for my last prayer

Till then I had no idea that prayers never got answered

Today when I have been killed I have met

Amidst the humanity of the dead, more real than the humans, more living

Not to return to your barbaric living world

To finally say that, don’t kill me, don’t burn me

Now, when I’m just a shape of a body, a face erased, a

dead name

You who stare at me with a bit of surprise and a bit of fear

What are you trying to remember

Are you searching for some one familiar

Some friend, some acquaintance, or merely yourself

Or do you wait for a face to return to your face

Manglesh dabral


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