India: Poets on Mumbai Terror

This post is part of the Global Voices special coverage on the terror attacks in Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008.

Nothing articulates your heart like a poem. Sometimes the complex composition of a poem simplifies complex issues of life, sometimes it helps you come in terms with your surroundings. Poets from India are saddened by the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. You will find them asking questions in their poetry and sometime they are even answering them for us. Here are a few snippets of their expressions.

Glory: Image by Flickr user 50mm, used under a Creative Commons License

A 12-year-old girl from Bangalore sets her thoughts on fire. Soon after the tragic news of the hostages at Nariman House being killed was aired, Lavanya shut herself in her room for about 15 minutes and later handed her dad Anand Krishna with a poem titled ‘The city that never slept, slept’.

[…]More lives are lost,
More battles fought.
The war was raging on,
The guns just fire everywhere,
Victory goes to no one.

The terrorists may be killed,
But the void of the lost loved one is never filled.
The roads are empty, there is no sound.
Mumbai, the city that never slept,
Slept long, deep and sound.[.]

Vivek Sharma at Desicritics used metaphors from epic Indian Tales to describe the Mumbai terror in his poem, “Mumbai burns”:

[.]Did you see the sobbing reporter describe how the Taj of Mumbai burns?
How many will Asuras (devils) cause to die before O Vishnu as avataar returns?

The fanatic bullet hunts gazelles everywhere that nostalgia mourns.
Where is the machine crafted that chokes our unfinished yearns? […]

Teal titles her poem ‘Battle without a cause’ at ~ Spero ergo sum ~. She ultimately longs for peace. But her never ending questions are opaque:

[…]Has the power at center gone completely callous

focused on nothing, but creating chaos, raucous?

How many more to die, how many more to lose

Until they get the backbone to act, and set loose

The act of retribution, against these evil minions

Who, despite education and well bringing, act heinous

How dare you take away something that god has given?

How can you walk on, like nothing ever happened?[…]

Sandhya Ramachandran cannot smile in peace anymore. She finds no place to go and hide from terror in her poem, “Why can’t I smile in peace?

[…]I seem to have no streets
to run and play and fall!
There is no place to cycle
no place to hide and crawl

I am a little kid of seven
with her book and toys and doll
Why can't I smile in peace
It is my world too, after all![.]

Ashq, a 28 year old engineer from Rajasthan wants to know when all this will end.  He titles his Hindi poem, “Aakhir kab tak?” (Untill when?).

-ये सपने नहीं जानते ,
किसी हिन्दू को न मुस्लमान को ,
न ये जानतें है हिंदुस्तान को , न पाकिस्तान को ,
फिर क्यों उन्हें ही चुकाना पड़ता है हर बार इस क़र्ज़ को ,
क्यों भूल जाते है वो ‘कायर’ मानवता के अपने फ़र्ज़ को ,
क्यों आतंक को हमेशा जेहाद कहा जाता है ,
क्यों धरम को इस तरह नंगा नचाया जाता है I

They don’t care about dreams
If you are Hindu or Muslim
Nor do they care
If India or Pakistan
Why then do they always pay the debt?
Why do those cowards (terrorists) forget their duty towards humanity?
And name terror as jihad
(Where) Karma is made to dance naked

Shreya Tiwari from Mumbai is calling every Indian to come together and join hands against terror in his Untitled Hindi poem.

- आगे आओ मिलकर हाथ मिलायेंगे ,
भारत को फिर से आजाद कराएँगे ।
समझो बस इस धरती को अपनी माता ,
समझो सबको अपना ही भाई – भ्राता ।
नही ज़रूरत मुझको तख्तो ताजों की ,
नही ज़रूरत स्वागत की और बाजों की ।
मुझे ज़रूरत सबकी देश सुरक्षा में ,
मै मांगू बलिदान देश की रक्षा में ।
बोलो क्या मै ऐसे ही चिल्लाऊंगा ,
दो ज़बाब क्या ऐसे ही मै गाऊंगा ।
इंतज़ार है मुझको देश के पुत्तर का ,
इंतज़ार है मुझको सबके उत्तर का ।

Come ahead and we’ll join our hands.
Try to free our country from terror
This land is our mother
And every Indian is our brother
I don’t need any crowns neither do I want to rule
I don’t need you to welcome me
We need to unite to protect this country
I need your blood for this nation
Tell me would I remain screaming?
Tell me would I remain sing like this?
I am waiting for this country’s child
And I am waiting for your replies.

If you would like to share a poem, please add it in the comment section.


  • Savio Rathod

    Even among the loud guns to seem to have entered in with a fearless heart
    Even in the chaos of the grenades to walked in with no anxiety on your mind
    With a brave heart to entered in the mansion forgetting of your own tomorrow
    To protect a million lives dwelling in heart of the city scared behind closed doors
    Promising them a future and knowing for them there is no looking back
    To ensure me a sound sleep on my pillow as the break of dawn arrives
    Sacrifing their own share of living for me and you to see the sun rising again
    Marching in with pride against enemies, with the nation’s responsibility on their shoulder
    Knowing with a cruel thought back of their mind, ‘That this is a point of no return’
    Carrying the nails of the own coffin in their own hands just for the love of mother Dodging every hit fired, against the fierce arms of these masked cannibals
    Walking ahead in their own suicide, but death in the hands of others
    Living with the fact that, life just depends on finger on the trigger and the bullet
    Destined to kiss their body, and put them down in the pool of their own blood
    With words of prayer, these warriors incur into enemy lines, with just one common thought
    A tribute to you the unsung the true sons and daughters of the mother land
    Your brave souls surely have made a place in our hearts and heavens above
    For every drop of your blood shed, we surely have a tear in our eyes
    We hope to have you as our sons and daughters bask in your glory
    A salute in your honour is still cannot be compared to your sacrifice
    With your own blood you have engraved your names in the heart of the flag
    Your efforts cannot be compared to any heroic of times in our history
    Our proud mother embraces every effort of ours, kissing your brow
    In our wombs may be you be born everyday, true patriots of mankind
    A tribute to you the unsung the true sons and daughters of the mother land
    Your brave souls surely have made a place in our hearts and heavens above

  • vijaykumar jain

    reality check, thanks to prashant for the fwd

    Hi All,

    It is nice to remember all the brave soldiers and commandoes who have given their lives for us and made us feel secure.
    We should salute them to put their Country and Country men’s interest before their lives.

    But will this solve the problems we are facing today.

    People have lot of anger , frustration, insecurity and in satisfaction.

    Very easily we are blaming it to the politicians and the corruption in the government, police etc.
    “Yeh salaa system hi poora corrupt and sadd gaya hai” – very easy to say right !

    But my dear friends who makes the system, who makes this government and police corrupt?
    The answer is not outside and the people to blame is not others but US the people of this city/Country who make this system and enhance corruption everywhere.
    Our Minds and characters have been corrupted over the period of time.
    Let us introspect and make some little changes in our lives and I am sure it will clear the big mess one day.

    “In dino har jagaa yahi naara sunai deta hai..
    I love Mumbai……. Mumbai Meri Jaan hai …

    Yahaan thodi si rishwat se sab kaam hota hai
    Ration card, Driving license,Passport, Gas Connection
    Telephone line, Registration
    Har kaam ke liye rishwat diya jaata hai
    Electricity aur paani ki chori kaun karta hai
    Pirated CD’s pe Movies dekh kar garv kaun mehsoos karta hai
    Encroachment se pura nagar basta hai
    Aur in illegal ids ka fir istmaal kaun karta hai.
    Fir bhi .. Mumbai Meri Jaan hai

    Car ki Octroi bachane ke liye
    Out of Mumbai ka registration kaun karta hai
    No Parking main Car park kaun karta hai
    Kahi pe bhi Gaadi Khadi kaun karta hai
    Jaha chaha waha U Turn kaun Marta hai
    Bina signal diye lane corssing kaun karta hai
    Footpath pe Bike kaun chalata hai .
    Footpath hote hue road pe kaun chalta hai
    Signal todne par .. Mamu ko saste main kaun patata hai..
    Aur apne aap pe in sab batton ke liye kaun itrata hai
    Fir bhi… Mumbai Meri Jaan hai

    Illegal Thelo pe saara Mumbai Khata hai
    Raste par bina soche kaun thookta hai
    Kachra Clean up bin se jyaada bahar rehta hai
    Road ko souchalaya bana ke kisne rakha hai
    Gutter ke Dhakkan chori kaun karta hai ..
    Mumbai Ki sadko pe fir naak band karke kaun chalta hai
    Fir bhi… Mumbai Meri Jaan hai

    Bus aate hi bhaag kar sab se pehle kaun bhagta hai
    Chalti train main utarne wala se pehle humme kisko chadna hota hai
    Koi gir gaya to Kya farak padta hai
    Humko jaldi hai humme kaam pe pahuchna hai.
    Apne neighbors ko yaha koi pehchanta hai
    Aissi bhagam bhaag main fir kiska dhyaan rehta hai
    Fir bhi… Mumbai Meri Jaan hai

    School College main donation dekar admission kaun leta hai.
    Chand marks badhane ke liye kya kya nahi karta hai.
    Thode se paiso ke liye koi bhi kaam karta hai
    Danga fasad ek daru ki bottle pe hota hai
    Vote kisko dena hai usme bhi sirf apna fayda kaun dekhta hai
    Yeh nahi janta iska asar fir kya result hota hai
    Thodi si mehenat main bahut kuch pane ki lalach kaun rakhta hai
    Fast money har kissiko pyaara lagta hai
    Fir uska anjaam yeh hota hai ……

    Yahhaa har aadmi rules todta hai
    Fir bhi…Mumbai Meri Jaan hai”

  • Thank you for this post – as you say, poetry can often help us deal with terrible situations.

  • excellent compilation.

    thanks for the post.

  • Pat

    The Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 have again brought to the fore the tragedy that is Pakistan. Pakistan is a country that has been the incubation center for a host of dangerous terror groups including the Lashkar (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed and Taliban. These groups have been developed, armed and inspired by the ISI and elements of the Pak army.

    The tragedy of Pakistan is that the elite will not do anything against these elements as their business interests could get harmed. The politicians will not act against these groups for fear of dismissals or assassinations. And the common folk are too distant to know the goings-on of the army. That leaves the media.

    In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the Pak media instead of using this opportunity to expose the Pak intelligence and army establishment has gone into a jingoistic and nationalistic direction. Thereby they have now complicated the situation completely and turned public opinion in Pak into a point of no return. Now no Pak politician can cooperate with India even if he wanted to.

    One can argue that the Indian media was also jingoistic and nationalistic post the terror attacks. But they spared no politician and put the blame for intelligence failures squarely on the leadership leading to a raft of resignations. Alas, not so in Pakistan. There the media has shielded the instigators, their guardians as well as the politicians who are guilty of inaction. Pakistan’s tragedy is that it is Pakistan. India’s tragedy is that its in the neighborhood.

  • Poet Kavi Pradeep’s lyrics of 1963 “Aye Mere Watan Ke” are immortal, but under fresh “poetic license” the song is re-formed in the context of the 26 November terror attack on Mumbai…

    Do listen to the “new” lyrics on YouTube:

    A post-26-11-2008 version of Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon

    Jai Hind!

  • Posting the lyrics to the “new” Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon: The youtube URL is

    Aye mere watan kay logon
    Zara aankh may bhar lo paani
    Jo Shaheed huay hain unkee
    Zara yaad karo kurbaani

    Jab ghaayal hua thaa mumbai
    Baaroodeyn sar par barsee
    Phir rahaa na sar na sartaaj
    Laasheyn patri par bikhree
    Kya log ththey woh abhimaani
    Sadiyon say na himmat haari
    Jo shaheed huay hain unkee
    Zara yaad karo kurbaani.

    Koi sainik koi chapraasi
    Koi sainik koi chapraasi
    Koi mallu koi bihaari
    Koi mallu koi bihaari
    Sadkon par marney waala
    Har veer ththa bhaaratwaasi
    Tum bhool na jaana unko
    Is liye suno ye kahaani
    Jo shaheed huey hain unkee
    Zara yaad karo kurbaani.

    Aye mere watan kay logon
    Tum khoob lagaa lo naara
    Rajnaitik Aatankvaad nay bhi
    Hai is desh ko maara

    Jab vote ka wakt aaya tho
    Kehtay hum hain aabhaari
    O kaptee sab netaaon
    Niklay kyon bhrashtaachaari.
    Ho ek se ek ahamkaari
    Jinko bas gaddi pyaari
    Kar-kar lay kar janta say
    Bus apnee jholee bhar lee.

    Jai Hind Jai Hind !

  • Thanks Javthis for mention here. I

    (I had penned a Hindi poem as well for Divya Himachal, Hindi newspaper published in HP, India, titled Nahin Chalta hai, Nahin Chalta Hai, Nahin Chalta hai )



    Dawn shifts, obscurity appears each day,
    As we subsist, have to perish one day,
    Though bodies perish, souls shine eternally,
    And myriad battles we fight back continually!

    We are on our own, have to depend on ourselves,
    We have willpower, and must apply ourselves,
    We raise voice once in a while,
    Alas! Our voices are too fragile!

    We clutch fervor and soon it fades away,
    But this time, we won’t let it pass away!
    We will strip every corruption’s core,
    Silent? We will not be anymore!

    Change our country’s fraudulent officials,
    Replace all selfish and avaricious politicians,
    They smash rules, who compel on us,
    This is our country, now you provoked us!

    On susceptible bodies you always bark,
    Keep your false promises; we are not in dark!
    Security? You made them vulnerable-
    Humans are they, and not invincible!

    Our faces, politicians always did slap,
    What religion? Which region? Ah, cut the crap!
    Insatiable is your greed, and you depend on our votes?
    And money comes from our hard-earned notes!

    Get away, we have right to choose,
    Enough! Anymore, we cannot relinquish or lose!
    Inevitable is what it is- the death,
    So here, we stand united until last breath!

    Copyright © 2008 SYED AMAAN AHMAD

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