This marvelous poem is making the rounds in the wake of the protests sweeping across India. Its powerful, evocative words speak across time and cultures as a clarion call to resist oppression, and that the power to rise up to fight, to persist, and to resist oppressive systems lies within all of us.
There are lots of translations of Hum Dekhenge, but I like this one best:
And here is the inimitable Iqbal Bano performing it. The thunderous applause that greets the songs and serves as almost a percussive accompaniment, adds to the alchemy of music and verse:
Something You Left to Me
This box of apothecary vials with black rubber stops.
A strip of masking tape runs the length of each vial.
Scribbled on each strip, the name of a national park:
Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Redwood—
nine bottles in all, but you wanted still more
before the thing in your lungs finally killed you.
The vials look empty, but I know they’re not—
not because you told me, but because I was there.
Each contains air from the park on the label,
air the only stuff you could steal without guilt.
You’d hold the vial above your head and explain
how no one can die while surrounded by beauty.
Which is why it ended in a machine-filled room,
stifling, falsely lit, encircled by a plastic curtain.
Air was all you needed. I should have crawled in,
unstopped the vials, and touched each mouth to your lips.
Owen McLeod, Yale Review. 2018