Don’t become another Pakistan, warns poet from across border

"Please change the situation, don't become another Pakistan, don't live in a hell-hole," says Pakistani poet Fahmida Riaz.

Written by Hemani Bhandari | Updated: October 9, 2015 11:49 pm
Pakistan, Pakistani poet, Pakistani poet and activist Fahmida Riaz/ Screenshot

Amidst the debate over beef and how religion is seeping into our political discourse, making the rounds of the social media is a poem by Pakistani activist and poet Fahmida Riaz.

The poem titled “Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle” (You turned out to be just like us) draws parallels within the two countries wherein the poet suggests how India is moving towards becoming a bit too much just like Pakistan which has been grappling with the Islamist fundamentalism for years. The poem has been translated by Shabana Mir on her blog.

Speaking to IndianExpress.com over the phone from Pakistan, Riaz says she wrote the poem in 1996 when the BJP first emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha. “I had met a couple of Indian friends in Canada and they told me about the communal atmosphere of the country. The words came flying by,” said Riaz who was born in India. “The condition wasn’t as bad as today,” she adds.

Riaz, who has led a troubled life in Pakistan because of her political ideology and style of writing, sought asylum in India from March 1981 to December 1987 when General Zia-ul-Haq was in power. She returned only when Benazir Bhutto returned to power in 1988.

Though a take on India, the poem is actually about extremism in Pakistan. Through her poem, the poet anticipates “Kaun hai Hindu, kaun nahin hai, tum bhi karogey fatwe jari, wahan bhi hoga mushkil jeena”.

Saddened with the fact that Pakistan is obsessed with religion, she says: “Pakistan has committed a huge mistake by becoming semantic with religion and it is in such a mess. We have been living under a communal sky for a half a century now. It’s sad that India is almost there.”

When she sought asylum in India, she says, the society welcomed her with “open arms”. But she fails to control her emotions while speaking about what has happened in Muzaffarnagar and more recently in Dadri: “Please change the situation, don’t become another Pakistan, don’t live in a hell-hole”.

“I hope my poem can instill some sense into religion-mongers,” she says, adding: “let India become a normal country again.”

Riaz recited the poem in front of an Indian audience on March 8, 2014 at a seminar ‘Hum Gunahgaar Auratein.’

“Tum Bilkul Hum Jaise Nikle” (Translated by Shabana Mir)

Turned out you were just like us.
So it turned out you were just like us!
Where were you hiding all this time, buddy?
That stupidity, that ignorance
we wallowed in for a century –
look, it arrived at your shores too!

Many congratulations to you!
Raising the flag of religion,
I guess now you’ll be setting up Hindu Raj?
You too will commence to muddle everything up
You, too, will ravage your beautiful garden.

You, too, will sit and ponder –
I can tell preparations are afoot –
who is [truly] Hindu, who is not.
I guess you’ll be passing fatwas soon!
Here, too, it will become hard to survive.
Here, too, you will sweat and bleed.
You’ll barely make do joylessly.
You will gasp for air like us.

I used to wonder with such deep sorrow.
And now, I laugh at the idea:
it turned out you were just like us!
We weren’t two nations after all!
To hell with education and learning.
Let’s sing the praises of ignorance.
Don’t look at the potholes in your path:
bring back instead the times of yore!

Practice harder till you master
the skill of always walking backwards.
Let not a single thought of the present
break your focus upon the past!

Repeat the same thing over and over –
over and over, say only this:
How glorious was India in the past!
How sublime was India in days gone by!

Then, dear friends, you will arrive
and get to heaven after all.
Yep. We’ve been there for a while now.
Once you are there,
once you’re in the same hell-hole,
keep in touch and tell us how it goes!

Watch video:

Original text of the poem can be read here.

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  1. H
    Haren
    Oct 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm
    > Vladimir Putin on Muslims > > No wonder he was selected by Forbes as the most powerful person in the > world. > > This is one time our elected leaders should pay attention to the advice of > Vladimir Putin. > > I would suggest that not only our leaders but every citizen of USA and > Canada should pay attention to this advice. How scary is that? > > It is a sad day when a Communist Leader makes more sense than our LEADERS > here in the U.S.A., Australia and Canada but here it is! > > Vladimir Putin's speech - SHORTEST SPEECH EVER. > > On August 04, 2013, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, addressed the Duma, (Russian Parliament), > > and gave a speech about the tensions with minorities in Russia > "In Russia, live like Russians. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to > live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, it should speak Russian, and > should respect the Russian laws. If they prefer Sharia Law, and live the > life of Muslim's then we advise them to go to those places where that's the > state law. > > "Russia does not need Muslim minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will > not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their > > desires, no matter how loud they yell 'discrimination'. > > We will not tolerate disrespect of our Russian culture. We better learn from the suicides and > > Problems of America, England, Canada, Holland and France, if we are to survive as a > nation. > > The Muslims are taking over those countries and they will not take > over Russia. The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the > lack of culture or the primitive ways of Sharia Law and Muslims. > > "When this honorable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should > have in mind the Russian national interest first, observing that the Muslims > Minorities Are Not Russians." > > The politicians in the Duma gave Putin a five minute standing ovation. > > If you keep this to yourself, you are part of the problem! SEE THIS -- will be hard for this group to “integrate” >
    Reply
  2. S
    SHAMSHER
    Oct 9, 2015 at 10:35 pm
    This advice is for you IE please do not try to make india another stan
    Reply
    1. I
      IndianWellWisher
      Oct 10, 2015 at 4:42 am
      Love it. All our commies and secularists and outside advisers can learn in a few minutes the basic issue around the world.
      Reply
      1. R
        Ramprabu
        Oct 10, 2015 at 4:54 am
        THE GREATEST DANGER TO THE EXISTENCE OF OUR NATION, BHARATH,COMES - HOLD ON- NOT FROM STAN, NOT FROM ISI, NOT FROM TERRORISTS, NOT FROM DAWOOD IBRAHIM NOT FROM JEHAD'S, NOT FROM LET, NOT FROM HAFEEZ, NOT FROM TALI-BAN, NOT FROM ISIS, NOT FROM REBELS, NOT FROM MAOISTS, NOT FROM CHINA, BUT FROM, YES, THE ONE AND ONE ONLY OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD, THE INDIAN MEDIA.. IT WILL "KILL" THIS NATION SOONER THAN LATER........!!! ILL WILLED, ILL INFORMED, ILL BRED, ILL READ, ILL MANNERED, ILL INTENTIONED, ILL EDUCATED, ILL ADVISED, ILL NATURED, ILL TRAINED, EVEN ILL DRESSED, THIS INDIAN HORROR, CALLED MEDIA, HAS CREATED AND PROMOTED - HATRED BETWEEN RELIGIONS, HATRED BETWEEN CASTES, HATRED BETWEEN GENDERS, HATRED BETWEEN NEIGHBORS, HATRED BETWEEN PARTIES, HATRED BETWEEN CLES, HATRED BETWEEN GROUPS, HATRED BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS, HATRED BETWEEN PROFESSIONALS, HATRED BETWEEN CENTER AND STATES, HATRED BETWEEN STATES, HATRED BETWEEN LANGUAGES, HATRED BETWEEN CULTURES, THROUGH LIES, THROUGH SENSATIONALISM, THROUGH MISREPORTING, THROUGH TARGETING, THROUGH PROPAA, THROUGH CORRUPTION, THROUGH ARROGANCE, THROUGH BIASED AGENDA, THROUGH DISTORTIONS THROUGH CROOKEDNESS, THROUGH FALSEHOODS, THROUGH COMMUNAL-MINDEDNESS, THROUGH MALICE, THROUGH FABRICATIONS, THROUGH STUPIDITY, THROUGH IGNORANCE.... WE ALL KNOW THEIR NAMES...... CHINA OPENED ITSELF UP FOR EVERYTHING, EXCEPT THE MEDIA AND PROSPERED.... THIS KIND "FREE SPEECH" WILL PROVE COSTLY, VERY COSTLY, TO THIS NATION, EVEN AS THE SOUND OF MONEY GROWS LOUDER IN THE POCKETS OF THESE VENDORS OF FREE SPEECH.... EXCEPTIONS ONLY PROVE THE RULE...
        Reply
        1. A
          Anon
          Oct 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm
          Hinduism is not like their religion that it will go to wrong way. india is going to good way at last.
          Reply
          1. A
            Ali Usman
            Oct 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm
            Reply
            1. A
              avi
              Oct 10, 2015 at 4:04 am
              A lone sane voice from stan !
              Reply
              1. A
                arjun
                Oct 10, 2015 at 6:43 am
                To sell, media has to create sensationalism. To create sensationalism, media has to highlight negative news and write headlines with a sting. Good news and constructive articles don't sell. Only gossip and negativity sells.
                Reply
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