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.

2 thoughts on “Sea Breeze, Bombay by Adil Jussawalla

  1. Sea Breeze as a poem reminiscent of the Partition people; the whirlwind that took over the sub-continent uprooting and blowing into pieces that came its way. A tornado was it; an upheaval full of convulsions and repercussions. The loss of lives, in terms of casualties was unimaginable as the people were doomed to die just for the lust for power; the chair to sit, the nation was ignored, selfishness was fed with power-grabbing. Sind was partitioned, Punjab was, Bengal was, Kashmir was as were Germany and Korea, one brother from another and the agonies of the Partitioned people the judges and the peace-brokers could never know them resulting in the flux of the huge refugees. People came to Bombay seeking shelter and refuge and Bombay gave to so did Delhi with the camp areas. This is the history of the island that is Bombay where the Longfellowian brothers go about telling of their distant shipwrecks.
    Similar was the coming of the Tibetan refugees coming in droves in the attire of their own.
    The buzz and bristle continues to keep clamouring for; hectic activity continuing as the things do not come to a close in Bombay. The harbours with the ports and posts and dockyards keep receiving the ships sailed for destinations, going or returning and as thus the city keeps busy with. The sea breeze comes and goes, refreshening it all, but unmindful of what it is happening within. Instead of drawing lessons from, still the communities draw the sword in enmity, vengeance or hatred, but settle not the old scores regressing to the background finally. Mankind, torn and battered, seems to be wailing in hiding. It does not need anything, just a few words of sympathy and affection.
    The vast expanse of the sea and the breeze blowing over is Nature cool and calm and refreshening while the troubles brewing in adjustment, relationship, amity and settlement the other side of the picture. The poem though Wordsworhtian reminds us of The Peshawar Express of Krishan Chunder, The Refugee of Khawaza Ahmad Abbas and Train To Pakistan by Khushwant Singh. Sea Breeze as a poem is a fine piece of Partition literature rarely to be found elsewhere.

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