Saturday 15 September 2018

Poetry 2018 Longlist, Nandini Mazumder

Borders and Nations 

Countries were was once
A vast mass of land
Not separated by boundaries or lines
But stretched across by miles
From horizon to horizon
It was one world
And then we came
And ushered in civilization
Civilization held several promises
But before the promises could be fulfilled
It demanded our tributes
Tributes to create demarcations
And the land that was once one
Was broken into fragments
Separated by boundaries and lines
Each fragment bound within
Became a nation
Each nation had a flag
Hoisted every once in a while
To celebrate what is called ‘national pride’
There was an anthem too
So that it could be sung aloud
For the enigma called ‘national pride’
The nation evoked feelings too
Compelling to feel extreme pride in everything within
Compelling to hate everything outside
The revered boundary line
Worshipped fanatically, protected fiercely
The line however keeps shifting
The elusive line
That decided our lives
Either regarding us as citizens
Demanding patriotism, demanding conformity
Or leaving the rest out
Hostiles and aliens
Refugees and illegal immigrants
As outsiders, unfit to live.
The malady of civilization spread fast
The beast called nation is unleashed
The lands once free
Open to anyone who wanted to come in
Home to anyone who wanted to stay
Were now civilized nations
Closed and unwelcoming
With borders, flags and anthems
A police force and army
Weapons to guard it fiercely
Outsiders were suspicious beings
Persecuted people who seek refuge
The immigrants, legal and illegal
They are turned away more often
Detested and unwanted
The promise of better life eluded them
Arrested, jailed, deported
The tired, poor and the hungry
The ones who escaped death
Taking the long arduous journey
They find the nation waiting with its fangs out
The nation ready to strike down
The nation apathetic and monstrous
They nation asking them to go away
They nation wanting them to die
The nation is god who cannot be questioned
The behemoth who must not be defied
Nation conquers all
Demanding blind allegiance from citizens
Perpetrating heinous crimes
Unleashing death and destruction
Bullets and pellets
Killing, maiming and blinding
Gagging dissent, preaching hate
The genocidal nation, greedy for tributes
And tributes are paid
At the altar of nation and nationality
Humanity is sacrificed.

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