Vietnam (a poem) by Zehra Nigah

Vietnam

By Zehra Nigah

(A war-time song of the children being born)

 

Ever since my eyes opened

I have only ever seen flames rain down in this world

From the womb of this trench

I learned to live and to stay alive

I learned to bear every pain and torment

Ever since I learned to speak

My lips have spoken these words

This roof that covers my slum—will it ever be blue?

Will stars ever twinkle in it?

And when will milk turn clouds into whatever I imagine

And when will the brightest sun allow me to clutch them in my fists

When will I run in the fields to kiss a gust of wind

Or caress the cold of the moon with my fingers

I’ve heard it said

I believe it, too

There are no chains on the sun, moon, wind.

Testimony (اظہار) by Ahmed Faraz

On the occasion of his 87th birth anniversary

 

Testimony (اظہار)

By Ahmed Faraz

 

If I am as silent as a rock

Don’t think that I

Am a stranger to the embers of fidelity.

Don’t look at me with such contempt

O sculptor of marble! It’s possible

That your chisel knew from its first cut

That the fire that burned within me for you

That I suppressed

Was the very fire of my life

Insaan, by Zehra Nigah

(an attempt at a translation)

Human (Insaan)

 

My eyes were covered by a curse of blood

You gave my eyes dreams

 

I was cloaked in darkness

You placed a full moon in my hands

 

I was afraid of the lamp’s flame

You gave my steps the sun

 

I had no authority over myself

You sentenced me with choice

 

My race was so many confused questions

How did you give them all such clear answers

 

Having heard the tale of my heart’s woe

You offered so many titles, so many chapters

 

You removed all of the thorns from my hem

And gave me roses for my lap

 

You remembered each and every one of my sorrows

And gave me happinesses without keeping track

Sahir Ludhianvi on the stupidity of war

खून अपना हो या पराया हो
नस्ल ए आदम का खून है आखिर
जंग मशरिक में हो या मगरिब में
अम्न ए आलम का खून है आख़िरबम घरों पर गिरें कि सरहद पर
रूहे-तामीर जख्म खाती है
खेत अपने जलें या औरों के
जीस्त फाकों से तिलमिलाती है

जंग तो खुद ही एक मसला है टैंक आगे बढ़ें या पीछे हटें
कोख धरती की बांझ होती है
फतेह का जश्न हो या हार का सोग
जिंदगी मय्यतों पे रोती है

जंग क्या मसअलों का हल देगी
खून ओर आग आज बरसेगी
भूख ओर एहतियाज कल देगी
इसलिए ए शरीफ इंसानों
जंग टलती रहे तो बेहतर है
आप ओर हम सभी के आंगन में
शम्मा जलती रहे तो बेहतर है

You should read Kris Manjapra’s book on M.N. Roy

I’ve spent the day thinking about what Roy must have felt like being expelled from the Comintern for arguing, in part, that it was possible for British colonialism to end without a revolution; that the British bourgeoisie would settle accounts with the Indian bourgeoisie and set them up as rulers; that the new arrangement would not mean a massive change in the social structure in India, but would rather help British capitalism restore itself after the crisis it faced after WWI; that Indian Communists should work inside the Congress Party and move its base to the left and chase the capitalists out (he got that last one wrong) … that he saw all of that in 1928, and had the misfortune of presenting that argument at the Sixth Congress of the Comintern right as the Russian Communist Party was licking its wounds over the massive debacle (to put it lightly) of how it dealt with the Kuomintang and the massacre of the Chinese Communists; that he was a casualty of the retrenchment that happened after 1928 only to have the Comintern reverse its position in 1935.  What it must have felt like to have helped to establish the Mexican Communist Party, debated with and convinced Lenin on the national question, gone to Germany and worked with the SpartakistBund, been the Comintern envoy in China, set up a base in Tashkent to train Indian Communists (largely Muslims) … and then be expelled by the Comintern … and then be proven right.  Manjapra’s book does an excellent job making sense of all of this.

7630694

Afro-pessimism

For folks coming to my talk on “the politics of Afro-pessimism” — a list of things that I have been reading in preparation. (I will keep updating this list as we get closer to the conference) … and in case it’s not clear: the talk is designed to be critical of the theories calling themselves afro-pessimist.

Bibliography

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Bennetta, Jules-Rosette. “Afro-Pessimism’s Many Guises.” Public Culture 14.3 (2002): 603-5. Print.
Cesaire, Aime. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review, 2000. Print.
Chandler, Nahum Dimitri. Toward an African Future–of the Limit of World. London: Living Commons Collective, 2013. Print.
Clegg, John J. “Capitalism and Slavery.” Critical Historical Studies 2.2 (2015): 281-304. Print.
da Silva, Denise Ferreira. “Before Man: Sylvia Wynter’s Rewriting of the Modern Episteme.” Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis. Ed. Katherine McKittrick. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. 90-105. Print.
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