Black & Kinky Amongst Brown Waves


poem of the week: the past never is
August 30, 2011, 11:11 pm
Filed under: travel

my one woman show open up next week at WOW cafe theater in NYC. this means that i am currently in an Indian state of mind… i am wearing one of my favorite tops from my travels, i am reading and rereading my script and daily being reminded of the stories and feelings that i wrote about as well as the ones that did not make the cut. the piece that i am gong to share today was written while i was traveling about a subject that i am still learning about. there is so much that i don’t know about the partition of India and Pakistan but this poem was my way to try and put it in a context that i could begin to understand. the books i have read (i.e. midnight’s children) and the movies that i have watched (i.e. earth) on the subject are painful and shocking and this was my attempt to process what i had seen, heard and read.

 

the past never is
© 2007 by margaux delotte-bennett

a friend of mine once said
for Jews, the holocaust sometimes shows up
in unexpected places
references sometimes lead down unexpected roads
a word or phrase unveils itself in another time or place

for blacks, slavery is the slippery shadow
seldom shaken
sometimes fleeting
subtly branded or shackled to words
thoughts
and deeds

for many Indians
it is Partition
its reality
its repercussions

in the Indian writers section of the bookstore
(it never ceases to annoy me that bookstores in India need to have one…)
but in the Indian writers section
I find myself skimming the back covers of novels
old and new
purposefully avoiding Partition references
for the gravity of emotions I know will be therein
(I’m looking for something light to take on the road…)

stories set in 1947
families torn apart
migrations east
migrations west
all clearly spell out
‘Partition heartache’
that I’m not ready to handle

when I am ready
I will read more
adding to the harrowing pictures that have already come into focus
through the Indian books and films I’ve already consumed

but even when it is not mentioned
Partition bleeds through the prose
as ghost trains pull into countless stations
and I see the bags of severed breasts
and the blood slowly seeping through
those sliding train car doors
again and again
I hear the screams
I smell the smoke
I taste the hatred laced with fear…

without having to look too hard
family stories
talk of Mujahideen
refugees
Hindu/ Muslim relations past and present
all rooted in Partition
the carving up of a newly independent India
creating east and west Pakistan as an independent Muslim nation
India as an independent primarily Hindu, yet Sikh and Christian land

Partition created strife where there was once peaceful coexistence
if not integrated communities
Partition created sovereignty where there was once religious oppression
if not dominance and control
on all sides
fortunes were made and lost
family members lost and found
fear found and woven into the fiber
of those that survived
and those that were taught to never forget

so the two novels I finally picked for my travels
both have strong Partition references
(unmentioned on the back covers)
like the seed around which the fruit of the story is formed
a hard, bitter seed
a sweet, fleshy fruit
tempting
intensely flavorful

painfully

satisfying

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