A poem on Bombay by Adil Jussawala
Adil Jussawala is one of India’s foremost poets. I once had an opportunity to hear him recite some of his poems at a poets evening which had the likes of Dom Moraes and H. Masud Taj sharing the stage.
In a response to the Partition of India in 1947, Jussawala penned this poem.
Sea Breeze, Bombay
by Adil Jussawalla
Partition’s people stitched
Shrouds from a flag, gentlemen scissored Sind.
An opened people, fraying across the cut
country reknotted themselves on this island.
Surrogate city of banks,
Brokering and bays, refugees’ harbour and port,
Gatherer of ends whose brick beginnings work
Loose like a skin, spotting the coast,
Restore us to fire. New refugees,
Wearing blood-red wool in the worst heat,
come from Tibet, scanning the sea from the north,
Dazed, holes in their cracked feet.
Restore us to fire. Still,
Communities tear and re-form; and still, a breeze,
Cooling our garrulous evenings, investigates nothing,
Ruffles no tempers, uncovers no root,
And settles no one adrift of the mainland’s histories.