13 September 2019

Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri freedom fighter who was convicted in India of aiding those who attacked India’s parliament. However, many Kashmiris believe he did not receive a fair trial, that his testimony was coerced, he himself did not kill anyone, and hence was the victim of a cruel and unfair end, simply engineered to satisfy the “collective conscience” of India as its supreme court noted.

TO AFZAL GURU – Ramzy Baroud

He climbed the steps briskly,
head held high,
greeted the hangman
with a gentle nod.
His beard grew defiant
as the hood plunged his face
in visible darkness
he remembered the judge
asking to repeat
alphabets of servitude.
Ignoring the judge,
he roared names
of forefathers who too had died
standing tall like the Himalayas.
He remembered his
mother’s tender touch,
his playful son named
after the poet, Ghalib;
his young, exuberant wife
whose mercy pleas went unheeded
in an unforgiving democracy;
faces of friends flashed by
as did houseboats on Dal Lake
the Shalimar
apple orchards in his hometown
his silly dreams
of heaven above
this playground below
where unruly children
refuse to learn
the etiquette of captivity
in rooms with no windows
only high grey walls
where they pumped petrol
into his anus to break him
as they had countless others
of same skin and soul.
His face was the color
of parched earth,
lips never ceased
reciting one last poem,
the hangman swore,
for God’s unruly children
to live forever Free.

From the book, I Remember my name, Poetry by Samah Sabawi, Ramzy Baroud and Jehan Bseiso