Lest We Forget Who We Are

Sand Art on India’s Independence Movement by Manas Kumar Sahoo

Lest We Forget Who We Are 

We are the offsprings of the brave-hearts
Who lost their all, only to bounce back
From their ashes over and over
To build it all over, time and again

We are the descendants of the die-hards
Incessantly bound by shackles of foreign rule
Bent by years and years of slavery, their
Self-pride crushed as they took the beating

We are inheritors of the DNA of the brave blood
That ran in the veins of our folks who never gave in
Gave their lives instead, never bowed their heads
Shook the imperial rule, got back their lost dignity

We are the lineage of the fighters of non-violent wars,
Of pacifists who freed our precious motherland, and kept
Our glorious nation and heritage alive, and we can
Never ever thank them enough, for giving us this life

We are the living testimony,  as we carry in our hearts
All the gory details of the grim tales, narrated to us
First hand, by all the scarred souls who had survived.
Now time to pass this heroic story, to our coming tribes

© 2017 Alka Girdhar
All Rights Reserved

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I wrote this poem on the 15th of August, 2017, the 71st Independence day for India.

Seventy years gone since the freedom struggle that resulted in self-rule. This fact also means the generation that went through the harrowing as well as heroic times during years of freedom struggle, is now either very old or not there anymore. Quite like that of holocaust. It has also been similar for early Australians who came from the UK and from other places – the gold diggers, the imperialists, the traders and the convicts. They were themselves a living history till they breathed their last.

Hence, it’s very important that young Indians get as much information as possible from those who are inevitably going to leave this world soon.  It is also equally important for us to chronicle this information, as these are family histories we need to pass on to our coming generations.

Just another fact about my above poem. I wrote it late in the evening on Independence Day hence did not publish it on the 15th of August. Next day I felt it was a bit late to publish it.

But when today, on the 17th of August, I came across a picture quote, I changed my mind. The quote was a satire on our short-lived and rather hyped up patriotism.

The quote said in Hindi:  “Main desh-bhakti  hun, ab main phir sone jaa rahi hun.  Mujhe 26 January ke din jagaa dena

Translating it loosely:  “I am patriotism/nationalism.  Now I am going to go back to sleep again. Do wake me up on the 26 of Jan 2018”

Like the 15th August, the 26th of January – India’s Republic Day – is another day when Indians all around the world celebrate the day and show patriotism by unfurling the flag, enjoying cultural activities as well as festive food.

But the above quote suggested that at all other times throughout the year, most Indians forget to exhibit or appreciate patriotism.

And that made me think. So what if Independence day is over! Why should I hesitate to post this poem just because it was meant for the 15th of August!

The essence of my poem is relevant throughout the year and we should have freedom to say out our heart esp. about things that matter.  That is all about independence.


My Affair With India – Two simple poems


Mommy India…

I’ve always liked you the way you are
Rich or poor, good or bad, pretty or ugly

But if you’re shining high, that’s better still
For one day I shall undeniably return to thee

To live my pending life in your cosy lap
To play some more childhood games

To pay off the debts I owe to you
To give back what I received from you

To know you more, from the depths of my heart
Dig deeper into the deep roots of my ancestry

To finally sleep restfully, layered in your soil
To scatter and flow immersed in your holy rivers

Till then I will love you from wherever I am
From near and far…from far or near

©2017 Alka 

India…my last wish

India is my first love
Once, it was my heart
And soul, my birthplace
That I never wished to leave

Two decades gone living
A two-faced life of an NRI
A non-resident Indian
An Australian-Indian

But what am I to India?
A guest for just a few days
Or few weeks. Not for month
After month, not for years

For one long year, if I get to live
A life of a resident Indian
That I once naturally was…
A wish come true it will be

Every single day – for an year
Waking up to the Indian sun
Sweet Indian birds chirping
Simple street side vendors
(I don’t care for shopping malls)

No depressed NRIs around me
Only genuinely happy Indians
With their no-pretense smiles
Going about their everyday lives

To reside in India in my own home
Not as a guest in others’ homes
No flimsy longing, for relations or friends
Rather be bored of them, at peace with them

The country becomes mine, my very own
If not forever, at least for an year
That’s not asking for too much
Not a wish that cannot become real

©2017 Alka Girdhar.