Tag Archive: afzal


Vincent and Ludwig

Vincent & Ludwig…

“Your ‘Sunflowers’ evokes the beauty of a sublime sonata to my deaf ears, my dear Vincent”,

“Ah! but you do hear! You hear the passions that torment my soul, my dear friend Ludwig”,

“And you paint in the colours of my dreams, Vincent, where I am alone in a field of sunflowers, as the moonlight caresses each tender stem”,

“Yes, Ludwig! Just as your ‘Moonlight Sonata’ moves me to tears, the tears that you see as delicate drops of dew on the sunflowers of your dreams”,

“Sunflowers bathed in soft moonlight”, smiles Ludwig,

“Oh yes, that same canvas of night that sways to the delicate touch of your music”, Vincent says with a wink.

Ludwig smiles again, as Vincent laughs a hearty laugh.

My Heart is with You

My Heart is with You…

Far too much has been said,
too many miles have been tread,

it looks like the end of the line,
keep it safe, that old heart of mine…

Walking with Hope

Walking with Hope

I walk with hope,
at long last, I walk with promise,

I no longer crawl,
scurrying between wounded moments,

I stand tall again,
at long last, I sing a peaceful refrain,

sheltered by your love,
I take solace from life’s bitter rain,

comforted by your warmth,
I soar free, high above the empty plain.

I walk with hope,
at long last, I walk with promise,

I stand upright,
feeling the radiance of your gentle light,

and I thank you for taking me in,
I am yours, and your breath spreads life,

deep in my heart, my soul, my mind,
you are the love that I have searched so long to find…

South Africa: Freedom Day April 27 2013

1.

On the 27th day of April in Nineteen Ninety-Four,

Freedom was won, at long last.

The battles were many, the foe brutal,

Apartheid tore our southern tip of the continent of Africa apart,

it’s notions of racial-superiority,

its religious fundamentalism,

its fascist tendencies,

its beastly nature,

ripped the flesh off the skin of our collective selves,

but resistance to tyranny has always been a basic human aspiration,

and so resistance flourished.

2.

Ordinary folk,

school-teachers and machinists,

nurses and poets,

labourers and engineers,

lawyers and students,

resisted!

We remember you today,

as a copper African sun shines bright this Saturday morning in April of Two-Thousand and Thirteen,

we honour you, who fought,

Comrades all –

Walter Sisulu,

Nelson Mandela,

Joe Slovo,

Ahmed Kathrada,

Bram Fischer,

Steve Biko,

Solomon Mahlangu,

Vuyisile Mini,

Denis Goldberg,

and many many more,

those we know and love,

and those whose bones have now settled in our rich African soil,

those who died,

those who were executed,

those who were shot,

those who were tortured,

those who were killed,

and the countless who are still tortured today by the swords of memory,

the emotional and psychological torture,

that still rains down on the valiant ones and their families.

Families!

Families fractured, broken and scattered throughout the world,

fragments of a sister’s laugh, a daughter’s smile,
bite as harshly into the soul as did Apartheid’s cruel lashes of violence.

So many died, too many died,

and I remember them,

Dulcie September – Assassinated in Paris

Steve Biko – Tortured and Murdered in South Africa

Solomon Mahlangu – Hanged by the Apartheid State

Ahmed Timol – Tortured and Murdered

Bram Fischer – Died in Prison

Hector Petersen – Shot in Soweto ’76

David Webster – Killed

and many many more,

their blood flowing into the soil of our ancestors,

our country, our South Africa,

for all South Africans,

Black and white and brown and all the shades of humanity’s mosaic.

3.

Now we reflect,

now we must dissect,

the fruits of freedom,

thus far,
much has been achieved,

yet,

the struggles continue,

for employment,

health-care for all,

shelter and housing for all,

and my compatriots have earned it,

they have stewed in the mines,

deep beneath the soil,

for shiny metals and glittering glass.

The revolution is a work-in-progress,

true liberation shall be economic liberation,

where each and every South African,

can walk the land of our ancestors,

truly free.

We SHALL overcome!

Amandla!

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

The Struggles Continue, Comrades…

work in progress. like life

She winked, and smiling with her eyes,
kissed my parched lips,

I could not return her kiss,

and though the years have spun their cobwebs,

fashioning vacuums out of forgotten dreams,

It is that kiss that I most miss.

Tonight, I lie awake,
lathered in layered memories,

of love lost, and of love gained,

of open skies,
and of rains crashing through my weak rhymes,

that have strained,
across the vast emptiness,

seeking absolution,
for my emotional crimes…

(This Scribble is a Work in Progress. Just Like Life)

The Nearest Exit

The Exit …

… discarding memories,
suffocating in nostalgia’s throttling grip,

I flee, moment by moment,
away from the now,

seeking, yearning,

chasing phantom clouds of promise,

coveting shrouded whispers of hope,

seducing empty vessels of belonging,

I flee, moment by moment,
away from the now,

seeking, yearning,

lost, alone, torn,

slowly crawling to the nearest exit

The Slothful Musings of an Indicted Leech …

… I suck. Simply put, I suck.

Attaching my slimy being,

surreptitiously clingy,
nauseatingly smooth,
ingratiatingly insidious,

onto warm sources of sustenance.

I suck, I leech, I drain,

the elements of good-nature,

turning smiles into profitable ventures,

sucking, leeching, draining,

the beings I encounter,

suctioned cups of guilt,
of predatory precision,
surgical frigidness,
clinical intent,

sucking, leeching, draining,

till fattened,

bulging with burgeoning gains,

flush with siphoned-off goodwill,

bloated by hubris,

slipping away,

slithering into my den,

creeping on borrowed legs,

seeing with donated eyes,

cloaked in spurious fabric,

I leech, I suck.

Self-pity my only refrain,

flushing what is left of a soul,

down,

into the welcoming drain.

My Wishes are Simple

My Wishes are Simple

My wishes are simple,
my desires few,

to gaze upon an ocean,
and marvel at a solitary drop of dew.

My wishes are simple,
my dreams not too grand,

to feel the waves teasing my tired feet,
with no footprints left in the cool, wet sand.

My wishes are simple,
my thoughts serenely gentle, calm,

my heart resting beneath a swaying palm,

healing my being, caressed by nature’s soothing balm.

The Beach of Promises

The Beach of Promises

1.

Fingers entwined, barely touching,
turquoise waters teasing your dancing toes,

strolling along that serene deserted beach,
our promised dreams within aching reach.

2.

Hands clasped, holding on,
sea-breezes tickling the nape of your neck

walking together, alone, vowing to never breach,
the dreams dreamed on that faraway velvet beach.

3.

Hands in my pockets, alone,
traces of you linger, teasing,

lost in my scribbles, your memory fading out of reach,

my thoughts ablaze, now and then,
catching a whiff of your fragrance,

wafting through alleyways of nostalgia,
your hand in mine on our pristine beach.

Your Whisper

You whispered in my ear,

a breathy secret, hushed.

 

“I love you”, you murmured.

 

I said nothing,

lost, in your arms,

I found a home. At last.

 

“I love you”, you said,

I said nothing,

lost in my thoughts,

I found peace. At last.

 

“I love you”, you said,

words failed me then.

 

They still do

Where Wild Violets Grow

Where Wild Violets Grow

Scribbling these verses,
caressing your bare back,
simple rhymes,
flowing from my fingertips.

Scribbling verses,
sprinkling odes to fragrant promises,
your smile lightens the burdens,
off my heavy heart.

Scribbling verses,
soaked in countless kisses,
the moonlight waltzing on your skin.

Scribbling verses,
feeling you,
your love never ceases to flow,

through the streams of my mind,
to a place of our own,
where wild violets grow.

The Nameless

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Slipping through the sieve of history,

the nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are roads renamed, nor monuments built.

Not for the nameless are songs sung, nor ink spilled.

The nameless rest.

Their silent sacrifice,
quiet ordeal,
muted trauma,

remain interred,
amongst their remains.

The nameless rest.

Not for the nameless are doctorates conferred, nor eulogies recited.

Not for the nameless are honours bestowed, nor homages directed.

The nameless rest.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

in every step that we tread.

They rest within us,
they walk with us,

for their spirit is not dead.

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“Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”

– inscription at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier WWII in Moscow

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Special thanks to my dearest elder sister Tasneem Nobandla Moolla, whose conversations with me about life as a non-white person growing up in pre and post-Apartheid South Africa prompted me to write this dedication to the countless, nameless South Africans of every colour, whose sacrifices and dedication in the struggle against Apartheid tyranny must never be forgotten.

My sister’s middle name ‘Nobandla’ which is an isiXhosa name and means “she who is of the people” was given by her godfather, Nelson Mandela, my father’s ‘best-man who could not be, as Nelson Mandela was unable to-make it to my parent’s wedding as he was in jail at the time in the old Johannesburg Fort. This was the 31st December 1961.

My Madness, Me

Madness

Confined by this straight-jacket,
strapped in, numb and dumbed,
a washed-out, has-been, also-ran,

body, eyes, the equilibrium of mind,
rattling like stones in an old tin-can.

Still, I am,

I am,

and I am unchained,

my dreams taking flight, soaring,
above these claustrophobic walls,
of synapses, and dungeons of stone,

swooping through green valleys,
taking a detour to savour the joys,

soaked in torrential, evergreen memories,
of a younger man, with passion in his bone.

I am.

My wings unclipped, unshackled, free,

I am, and though I am unable to see,

I am.

At long last,

me.

The Sound of Distant Ankle Bells

Memories of those delicate tinkling bells,
casually fastened around calloused feet,

take hold of my waking moments,

and fling my thoughts back to a distant time,
where folk-songs were heartily sung,
joyful, yet hopelessly out of rhyme.

I barely saw her, a construction labourer perhaps,
hauling bricks, cement, anything, on a scorching Delhi day,
while in the semi-shade of a Gulmohar tree, her infant silently lay.

A cacophony of thoughts such as these swirl around,
yanking me away from the now, to my cow-dung littered childhood playground.

Now, a lifetime of displacement has hushed the jangling chorus of the past,
to a faint trickle of sounds, as distant as an ocean heard inside tiny sea-shells,

and,

I know, that the orchestral nostalgic crescendo, rises, dips, and swells,
as tantalisingly near, yet a world of time away, as were the tinkling of her ankle-bells.

She

She smiled, gently,
her warmth infusing me,
with a serene stillness of time.

She settled, slowly,
in my waking thoughts,
a soothing balm of simple joy.

She remains, scribbled,
on the walls of my fractured heart,
memories of happiness that once breathed…

…and is no more

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The Petty Posh-Wahzee – Liberation & Ostentation

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The Not-So Distant Past:

The fallen fighters for freedom, are unable to turn in their graves,
their battered, fragmented bones, mixed with a handful of torn rags,
are all that remain, a mute reminder of their selfless valiant sacrifice.

They endured brutal Apartheid harassment, detentions without trial,
torture in the cells, and mental anguish when loved ones disappeared,
they left their homeland, to continue the struggle against racial bigotry,
while countless others fought the scourge of white-minority rule at home.

Nelson Mandela and many, many others, spent their lives imprisoned,
on islands of stone, and on islands of the cruellest torture, yet they stood,
never bowing, never scraping, they stood, firm for ideals for which they were prepared to die,

and many, many comrades did die, at the hands of the callous oppressor,
and many, many comrades perished in distant lands, torn from their homes,
while the struggle continued, for decades, soaked in blood, in tears, in pain.

The Present:

19 years have passed, since freedom was secured at the highest of prices,
delivering unto us, this present, a gift of emancipation from servitude,

a freedom to walk this land, head held high, no longer second-class citizens,
in the land of our ancestors, whose voices we hear and need to heed today.

I do not care much for fashion, Lewis-Fit-On and Sleeves unSt.-Moron,
yet the ostentation that I witness baffles even my unsophisticated palate,

our ancestors’ plaintive whispers are being dismissed, left unheeded, as
we browse the aisles for more and more, always for more and yet more.

Asphyxiated by the excess of the Petty Posh-Wahzee, we find ourselves,
perched precariously on the edge, of a dissolution of all that is humane,

babies go hungry, wives are battered, our elders left in hospitals for hours,
I cringe as I scribble these words, perhaps too sanctimonious and preachy,

yet I know, deep in the marrow of my brittle bones, I know, I know, I know,
this tree of freedom planted by the nameless daughters and sons of Africa,

needs to be shielded, nurtured, protected from our very own baser impulses,
so that the precious tree of freedom, may bear the fruit that may feed us all,

for if not, then we are doomed, to tip over, and into the yawning abyss, we shall fall.

The Tears of the Clown

A veil of smiles,
worn effortlessly.

Tuning out the blurring din,
alone in the cackling throng,

never hoping to belong,
though pining to fit-in.

Peeling off the thin facade,
feeling the pained charade,
melting into the dim parade.

Trickling effortlessly down,
over the strained contours,

of a spurious laugh,

the tears of the clown,

rehearsed, rehashed,

form an unending cold stream,
dissolving the lingering traces,

of this simple boy’s dream

Within Me

Flowing through the rivulets of my everyday thoughts,
memories of you surface, gasping for air, breathing in,
permeating, absorbed by the pores of my ageing skin.

Famished, greedily gulping mouthfuls of fractured life,
awash in distant yesteryear, when your feathery kisses,
banished the vacuum, dispelling my anguish and strife.

You are eternally carved, and embroidered into my soul,
I wash ashore, smashing against the boulders of the now,
seeking solace, begging for absolution with my empty bowl.

The book of fate is sealed shut, the tea-leaves have been read,
nothing remains within me, the burden of smiling has been shed.

Now I am stranded, between dreams and the empty years ahead,
searching for forgiveness, in the miles I have yet to wearily tread.

When,

the hushed rage of prejudice rejoices in triumphant pomp and hateful ceremony

and,

the silent dagger of fascism plunges deep into the soul of a world bereft of hope

and,

the long knife of embraced apathy twists and turns in the backs of the weakened ones

then,

maybe we’ll open our eyes

and perhaps then we’ll open our sewed-up mouths

and maybe only then will we whimper in mock shock and oblivious surprise

for,

the festering hate that spirals around us

in the fertile minds of quasi-intellectual bigotry

is unafraid and speaks in the loudest baritone

yet,

we accept

we acquiesce

we wish it all away

but,

there will come that time when the lines are drawn

when the purest hearts of silently smiling bigotry will hold the world in their sway

with their cherubic, agreeable arguments sprinkled with pieces of fact that will kill, rape and slay

what then,

I ask, will we do that day?

As she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and hopped to school

all of nine and a half years old

with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was

her father’s pride

 

As she lies bleeding

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

as her blood soaks it the colour of the cherries her mummy buys

 

As she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums

 

As she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly and then she is dead

a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

As she lies bleeding

for even in death she bleeds some more

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals the light from her bright little eyes

as she lies bleeding

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19

leningrad in ‘42

freetown in ‘98

soweto in ‘76

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

kabul now

basra still

gaza too

As she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

As she lies bleeding.