Guns and Graves: a poem against AFSPA

Prerna Bakshi

Prerna BakshiPrerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released book, Burnt Rotis, With Love, long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. More here – http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/

This poem was first written in response to the decision taken by the then Indian government to extend The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 to Arunachal Pradesh. But AFSPA has also been in place in Kashmir for long. It has been resisted in the past and continues to be resisted today for it gives almost absolute impunity to the armed forces and paramilitary forces for perpetrating gross human rights violations. This poem was first published by Red Wedge Magazine, U.S.

Guns and Graves

(First published in Red Wedge Magazine, U.S.)

I looked for you everywhere.
I asked everyone.
Now the answer I was in
quest for, rests with you
in your grave, as you lie here
resting next to other dead men and women,
whom I had asked earlier
about your whereabouts.
All lined up
next to one another.

Now this place looks like a giant cemetery
hosting more graves than the actual people,
guns outnumber the hands,
(and whatever that’s left of them anymore)
thorns exceed the petals on the rose,
rivers have turned red,
only blood flows,
even the sun reluctantly rises,
crows no longer croak,
people here have long forgotten
what colors look like,
one only sees khaki-colored clothes.

Khaki-clad men with guns in hands
is all one sees,
state sponsored massacres, witch-hunt,
deploying ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act’
don’t usually bring ‘world peace’.
Today the world’s biggest arms importer
aspires to become tomorrow’s ‘superpower’,
not by bloodshed, but apparently,
all by exporting ‘peace’.

Arms is all one sees here now,
stretching as far as one’s eyes can see.
The air is filled with gunpowder smoke,
slowly choking me as I breathe.
As I sit here next to your grave and weep,
while at last your body at peace and you’re asleep,
I wish you’d call my name
just one more time,
talk to me just once,
tell me all about this life,
afterlife,
come back to me,
teach me
how to shoot guns.