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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXIV (2000-2001)

Poems from : "Of Gods, Men & Militants"

Dr. K. L. Chowdhury

Exile What Unites Us Need for an Identity
Exile is like being shipwrecked,
torn from your roots,
shorn of your identity,
thrown into destinations unknown.
Exile is a leveller.
It has no place for position,
pedigree, power or pelf.
It humbles all.
Exile is an existential crisis,
a crisis of faith, of values,
a challenge to human spirit
that may submerge and sink
to the nethermost depths
or soar to new heights
in the rekindling
of the urge to survive.
Exile is a penance,
a cleansing process of the soul,
a seeking of new vistas,
new values, new relationships,
a new purpose in life.
Exile is like being on a railway platform
waiting for the train
that takes you back to your roots.
a journey of self-rediscovery
waiting for another tragedy
to unite us again.
Why does it need bloodshed
to bring us together,
separated that we are
like the banks of a river,
the river of blood
that is our own,
fed by streams of blood
flowing down the centuries?
Our blood.
Blood is our bond,
it is our heritage,
we are the blood.
Yet we drift apart like the banks,
and the enemy strikes
and spills more blood.
Our blood.
We fight apart,
but wounded we fall together
in the same battlefield.
We did together,
or if we survive
we lie together
in the same ward.
Maimed, we recover
only to limp back
to our separate paths,
drawing you inevitably
to your past,
your identity,
your gods,
your motherland.
As the world moves
into the golden age
of what we call the global village
and national boundaries
slowly disappear
to merge into a new order
of a single government,
a world democracy,
isn't it anachronistic,
this assertion of my identity?
A Ksshmiri Pandit now in exile
but labelled a migrant
for having been uprooted,
why do I stake my claim
as an internally displaced
or a refugee
in my own country?
Why seek a minority status
as a minority Hindu
in a Muslim majority state
of a Hindu majority India?
A jigsaw puzzle, I agree,
the legacy of a race memory,
a generational deja vu
of persecution and violation,
an ongoing trauma of six centuries
a sacred injunction
of exodus-stricken ancestors
for redemption
for salvation.
Yes I will need my identity
so long as these walls
between caste and community,
between faiths and religions,
between races and nations,
are not pulled down completely,
and a true world order
defined in all sincerity.

[The author is a renowned medical expert, Panun Kashmir Stalwart and a prolific writer]

Mailing address : Chowdhury Lane, Roop Nagar, Jammu
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Views expressed by authors in Vitasta Annual Number are not necessarily of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata.

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