01 January 1970
#WeekendReads

Poem | Umar: Of Shadows Awaiting Dawn

While former JNU student leader Umar Khalid remains in prison, a West Bengal poet closes her eyes and lets her dreams flame up resistance. She pens, ‘The shafts of the sunlight are setting /all the detention centres on fire.’

A poem dedicated to political prisoners like Umar Khalid
A poem dedicated to political prisoners like Umar Khalid Getty

The poet closes her eyes and dreams flames up resistance. She pens, ‘The shafts of the sunlight are setting /all the detention centres on fire.’

Do you have lights in the cell?
We don't have lights here.

In my grandmother's fairy tales
The ghosts didn't have shadows.
My grandmother warned us-
To know ghosts you must look
for the shadows.
They don't have shadows either.

Now I search for the shadows everywhere.
And I see somewhere in a distant prison cell
a shadow is growing large.
It's taking the shape of a rising sun.

I see the sun raising its fist
and shouting, 
"No NRC, No CAA."
The shafts of the sunlight are setting 
all the detention centres on fire.

Is that You, Umar?

Can a prison ever incarcerate a sun?

(Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal.  Her poetry collection The Musings of the Dark is available on Amazon.)