Verses lend strength to protest

Wearing a school uniform and striking pair of parrot green shoes, a man forcefully smashes watermelons on the floor and out comes olives packed neatly in small plastic sachets. Along with this is a chit of paper with the words: ‘Injustice we do her when we look for her poems...

...Because poetry she doesn’t have
makes her the most beautiful among the beauties
...Injustice we do Gaza when
...A legend we make of her’.

These verses from the poem Silence for Gaza by renowned Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish find space in the above mentioned conceptual presentation by Inder Salim during the recent event ‘A Cultural Protest’ organised by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT). “This is for you to taste Palestine,” said Salim offering an olive (Palestine’s national fruit).

For a few minutes, it was difficult to differentiate between the organisers and the attendees, for almost everyone had taken the charge to help in something or the other and wore black and white chequered scarves around their shoulders. While those inclined towards the arts took to
the colours and those interested in getting clicked let it be so, in order to express their solidarity for the Palestinian cause. The protest, of course, was targeted at the Israeli military operation being conducted in Gaza.


“It’s happening all over the world and artistes cannot be silent against this brutal violence. If the Government of India won’t then the artistes of India will protest against it,” said thespian MK Raina as he soon announced to all present to gather near the stage where a group of eminent personalities sang popular songs such as Ab nahi, ab nahi, sehna...  to the accompaniment of a harmonium.

Even though it drizzled continuously, the flaming enthusiasm of the protesters and supporters could not be doused. Winding one’s way through the crowd one could spot familiar faces as the voices from a small make-shift stage charged the spirit.

Suddenly the sentences become spaced and the words fell heavy on the soul. “All you can say Hamas...,” are the words that demand attention. Spoken with pain and angst by Sanjana Kapoor (granddaughter of Prithvi Raj Kapoor) these and others such as “On which side of the border will my tears fall...On the side of the bombed or those who bomb?” are heart-rending when imagined in the context of the victims of the war.


As Kapoor recites one poem after another, people stand and listen to her and soon actor Sharmila Tagore makes her presence felt at the event, browsing over photographs displayed on the premise’ walls depicting cruelty. Children howling, women weeping and bloodshed in these images spoke volumes. Tagore later took to the stage to recite poems by Samih Al Qasim and Darwish,

“...Babies without babyhood and ageless aged men
...Women without desire
...And because this is what it is
...It is the most beautiful
...clearest
...richest
...and most worthy of love.”  

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