Archive for January 23, 2013


in the debris of the past,
scraps of casually discarded emotion.

in hastily trashed yesterdays,
an inkling of moments flung away.

in heaps of rubbished words,
that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

in the layers of moulted skin
the wilting self that once was true.

in the reflections between the ripples,
for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,
an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.



Why does the sun dry up so many scattered tears
Slipping down the coarse cheek of a million hushed fears
Where no one is scalded though the searing fog clears
While prayers are mutely spoken even as the end nears

We shatter and scrape on demented knees
Blindly begging for mercy as it silently flees
Searching listlessly for salvation drowned in the breeze
That spits at the soft rose suffocated by a wheeze

I know now what I need never have known
Of hope that was trampled before it had flown
Into a wasted sky filled with hate that could drown
The giggling of the crowd and the crying of the clown

A hope so fragile its wings were of brittle glass
Ripping the veneer off the sewers of class
Twisting the fabric of the weighed and costed mass
Who numbly waited hoping that it too may pass

For when shards of that hope in all hearts scurries away
To a darkness where crowded night is emptied off the heaving tray
’Tis then when sewn eyes behold that doleful day
When all shall tear at each other while on demented knees we still pray

For a lifting of the veil of that wilful deceit
That’s wrapped up in a flag swollen with conceit
While the limbs splinter in the claw of a winner’s defeat
Yet still the drums roll for the ill-fated souls chose never to retreat

From that drenched battleground where blood flows through a sieve
And love’s lost song plaintively begs for a reprieve
From eternal loss which into raw emotion does cleave
Only to slip through the fingers and like grains of sand leave




we shall always be many more

we who roast in your designer factories

our brows dripping with our salty sweat

we who may forgive but shall never forget


we shall always be many more

we who reek of cheap moonshine

we who stagger and often stumble

we whose stomachs never cease to rumble


we shall always be many more

we who polish your fine bone china

we whose pay gets docked if one cup is chipped

we who fight your wars, and off to battle get shipped


we shall always be many more

we who clean up after your pretty children

we whose kids are hungry, naked and get swept

into the bowels of desolation, as mothers’ tears are wept


we shall always be many more

we who do your dirty work each day

we who you treat like vermin, foul and rotten

we whose trampled dignity is always forgotten


we shall always be many more

we who will rise up and seize the light of hope

and reclaim what is ours for our daughters and sons

though we will always be in the cross-hairs of your guns


we shall always be many more

and there shall be many more of us still to come

to rid you of your smug arrogance and endless greed

for we too have children whom we have to feed


we shall always be many more

‘and the meek shall inherit the earth’

or something like that though we no longer care

for we shall rise up one day to demand our rightful share


we shall always be many more…


It was a long time ago

when you put your words into song.


‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.


You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,


fiddling out a hail of truth.


Of solidarity.


Of immediate calls for peace.


You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.


You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.


You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.


And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,


you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.


You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,


this land that is my land and your land too.


For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.


And when you sang of overcoming one day,


the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way,


they branded you a commie, a pinko, a nigger and a Jew-lover.


An enemy of the state.


While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.


‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well


but they were all deaf, for they could not hear the tolling of the bell


‘the bell of freedom


the hammer of justice


the song of love between your brothers and your sisters’.


And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.


And then came the marches.


You were there too.


Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.


And you faced their ugly spit, their venomous rage, their clubs and sticks and knives, but you always knew,


that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.


However long it may take, you would never give up. 


You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,


victoriously into their jail.


Then they shot him down, they shot Dr. King dead, as they burnt and lynched many, many more.


Yet you stood firm, you never wavered, your blood was red after all, and they could not tarnish the truth’s core


And so it came to pass, that Woody went on his way.


To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.


And Huddie too, said his last goodbye.


And you were then one, and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.


But you saw that the people were with you. 


As they had been, all along.


So you fiddled that old banjo,


dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.


Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,


across this earth, turning, slowly, putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.




today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,


for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,


I do so in gratitude, for after all the travails that you’ve been through,


I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate, and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,


but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,


there always will be, as there always must be,


fresh flowers,


that will be ablaze somewhere,


driving away the apathy and reminding us all,


that this world has for all of us,


plenty of room.



Escaping the omnipresent shadows,

eluding the sweaty palms of the torturer,

running to shed this sorry skin of shame,

in hiding, here and there, with no one,

yet everyone to silently blame.


Leaving the lips once kissed behind,

to a refuge impossible to find,

not a word of sad welcome,

severing all ties the that bind.


And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.


You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,


We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,


We salute you! You who fought and you who left to fight,

at home, or on that faraway and distant shore



Forget us not,

fellow traveller in our just cause,


‘aluta continua’ was our refrain!

As we trudged in soggy marshes,

malarial fevers lashing us in the summer rain!


‘amandla’ we shouted!

As we hurled stones at that heartless foe,

facing their metallic beasts with our arrows and our bow!



Forget us not,

fellow traveller in our just cause,


‘aluta continua’ is our refrain still!

‘amandla’ we shout today too!

As the fight continues,

for the many who yearn for a world less cruel,

and more true.



Forget us not

fellow traveller in our just cause,


though we have passed and in the earth we lie,

remember us who fell,

and a tear or two for us in solemn moments do cry!



Forget us not,

fellow traveller as you pick up our stones,



forget us not,

as you exhume our tattered rags and bones,



Forget us not,

and do not our cherished ideals betray,



Forget us not,

for we too,


believe in that promise of a new day!


They left so abruptly,

the valiant ones.



many known,

many more nameless.


The truest sons and singers,

husbands and poets,

lovers and wives,

daughters and farmers,

workers and sisters,

brothers and friends.



They left so abruptly,

with quiet pride,

a steely courage,

and a gentle dignity.


They left so abruptly,

leaving us our tomorrows,



filled with promise.


They left so abruptly,

so that we may breathe,

the breath of liberty!

The air of freedom!

The warmth of justice!


They left so abruptly,

leaving with us their parting gift…










They left so abruptly,

yet we remember them all today,

and in the days to come,

their legacy will light our way!



They left so abruptly,

yet they remain!

Hewn into our memory and conscience,

engraved in our heart!


They left so abruptly,

and yet they endure,

with us,

within us,

now and forever more!

At times,
I want to crawl,
out of my skin,

to escape,

abandoning my face,
my mouth, my heart,

to face,
the mouths, the hearts,

pointing at my empty shell.

At times,
I want to crawl,
out of my mind,

to flee,

losing my senses, my sanity, my thoughts,

to exult,
free at last,

hugging insanity, grasping at madness,

free, finally,

to lay my yesterdays,

to rest

Recital at International Solidarity Conference, South Africa, October 2012.



I remember the tears she shed,

as she longed for her distant abode,

she wept often then, as she pined for her children, Tasneem & Azad,


and felt the future looked bleak, on that dim, lonely road.


I remember the tears she shed,

when that telegram came one afternoon,

‘regret to inform you stop father passed away stop’,


She wept often after that, for their last goodbye had been said too soon.


I remember the tears she shed,

on that glorious day in a February not that long ago,

when the prisoner finally walked out, breathing the free air,


she wept less after that, for then she knew where they were to go.


I remember the tears she shed,

soaring high above the clouds heading back to her land,

those tears came out in soft sobs, but her eyes were smiling,


defiant and full of new hope, as she held tightly on to his wrinkled hand.


I remember the tears she shed,

some years later, on that peaceful late April morning,

when she stood and proudly bore the ink on her aging thumb,


she wept a lot that April evening, knowing that a new day was dawning.


I also remember that on a Thursday not long ago,

as she was slipping away slowly, she seemed not to weep,

after all the miles and places, and after all the tears that she had cried,


I remember that she wept little then, as she drifted off into an eternal sleep.


(for my mother, Zubeida Moolla 1934 – 2008)



My Mother and Father

Zubeida & Mosie Moolla

Echoes of distant yesterday,

composing dirges,

in memory,

of torn hearts,
left unstitched.

The blood gushes,

through leaky veins,
spilling out,

painting the earth red.

We tread on,


peering from unseeing eyes,

the echoes haunt us,

settling into corners,
of our shared souls,

jarring us,

to embrace,
every sliver of hope,

though jaded,

the blood flows,


seeping from wound’s,
inflicted by destiny,

and by fate,

while echoes,
stir quietly,

our ever mindful,

sentinels against forgetting

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