by Nandini Varma
Where are you hiding, Ms. Nasreen?
Are you in the room that was
Burnt down by the All India Muslim Forum?
Or by the harassed grooms of the brilliant thoughts,
Weaker than loosely knotted ropes,
Left to rot and weaken
And rust, if perhaps they could do so too.
Are you in the room drilling holes
In the bare, recklessly groped walls?
That will always find its way in,
Then why are you drilling them, Ms Nasreen?
They said you carried incendiaries,
Did the undoing, unwriting,
Asterisking then scare them more?
I entered that room today, Ms. Nasreen.
The television screen stared at me.
I looked for you.
I knew but I looked for you.
I sat and waited
Staring back at the television
That lifted broken undone feathers
Still staring blankly at me.
(I burnt my skin)
Where are you hiding?
Please tell me, Ms. Nasreen.
I can’t search for you anymore.
I’m returning to my ropes.
They feel new and tight,
Unscratched and strong
Not torn, not rusted.
Then why do they look so sad today?
Illustration by Mavni