Khuda by Manash Bhattacharjee

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©Kishore Singh

Many times I passed by your house
On my way to see my grandmother

I paused before the large iron gates
Expecting to catch a glimpse of you

Grandmother said you are formless
It puzzled my mind of teeming idols

You can see everything without eyes
But they say you are a merciful heart

I wondered what the faithful dreamt
In the hollow cloisters of the masjid

I thought I might hear if not see you
In the wind that blew across my face

But all I heard was the beggar’s voice
Pleading limbless for alms in your name

If god is a sufferer’s imaginary flower
Can history’s boots be his salvation?

If bhakti is opium and divinity – smoke
Was Kabir hallucinating about Ram?

The pervasive music of god’s absence
Haunts the beggar and the poet alike

My grandmother on hearing the azan
Blessed the muezzin for telling the time

She prophesied in her tongue of paan
“One day only azan will be left to tell time”

Telling of the time and tolling of the bell
The inconclusive appointments with god

They also call you by the name of Allah
The call and the cry born of desert skies

But I was drawn to your Persian name
That brought you the salaam of Kafirs

A lover sings your praise on the radio
You elevate the height of the beloved

When the Ustad renders his ode to you
His tongue’s fire soothes the landscape

Your name effaces all pangs of farewell
The departing footsteps promise return

Manash Bhattacharjee

January 9, 2014, Delhi.