India by Taslima Nasrin
(to Sumit Chakrabarty)
India is not just India, even from before I was born,
India has been my history.
My history, carved into two by daggers of animosity and hatred, running breathlessly towards uncertain possibilities,
with the terrible crack at the core,
History bloodstained, history turned death.
It is this India that has given me language,
Has enriched me with culture
And powerful dreams.
This India can, if it so desires, snatch
My history away from my life,
My homeland from my dream.
But why should I let it drain me dry only because it so desires?
Hasn’t India brought forth those noble souls,
Who place their hands today on my tired shoulders,
On the abandoned shoulders of this helpless, orphaned soul?
These hands, longer than the land, stretched beyond space and time,
Gives me warmly cherished security against all worldly cruelties.
Madanjeet Singh, Mahasweta Devi, Muchukund Dube—they are my homeland today,
Their hearts my true country.
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]