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"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Sunday, 11 December 2011

6th December, and a Second Exile

6 December 2011 marked the 19th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid. It is a day which is etched in my mind. I was a second-year student at IIM Calcutta and it was at dinner time in the Mess that we got the news that Babri Masjid had been demolished.

Remember this was pre-internet era, no FB or Twitter to disseminate those ugly images which we were to see later: goons in saffron headbands tearing at the ancient dome as the police stood by and watched.

Almost two decades on and nothing much has changed, the shame of the Babri Masjid demolition has got added to that heap where our shames are endlessly accumulated, where they languish knowing that justice in our country is a chimera as perpetrators walk off into the sun like cowboys while we Indians watch : 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, 1991 Mumbai blasts, 2002 Godhra riots, 2007 Mumbai attacks...

As I mulled thus I stumbled across this nazm by Kaifi Azmi written in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. Titled 'Doosra Banwas' it is a haunting tribute by a great poet where he gives voice to Ram, in whose name avowedly, the masjid was razed.

Doosra Banwas

Ram banwas sey jab laut key ghar mein aaye,
Yaad jangal bahut aaya jo nagar mein aaye,
Raqsey deewangee aangan mein jo dekha hoga,
6 December ko Shri Ram ney socha hoga,
Itney deewane kahan sey mere ghar mein aaye?

Jagmagate thhe jahan Ram key kadmon key nishan,
Pyaar ki kahkashan leti thhi angdayee jahan,
mod nafart key usee rah guzar mein aaye,
Dharm kya unka hai, kya zaat hai, ye jaanta kaun?
Ghar na jalta to unhen raat mein pehchanta kaun,
Ghar jalane ko mera, log jo mere ghar mein aaye,
Shakahari hain mere dost tumhare khanajar.

Tumne Babur kee taraf pheke thhe saare pathar,
Hai mere sar ki khata zakhm jo sar mein aaye,
Paun abhi Sarju mein Ram ney dhoye bhi na thhe,
Ke nazar aaye wahan khoon key gehre dhabbe,
Paun dhoye bina Sarju key kinare sey uthhe,
Ram yeh kehte hue apne dware se uthhe,
Rajdhani ki fiza aayi nahin raas mujhe,
6 December ko mila doosra banwas mujhe.

For those of you not entirely comfortable with Hindustani, I shall attempt a translation:

The Second Exile

When Ram returned home from his days of exile,
As he entered the city he remembered the jungle of his exile,
As he witnessed the dance of madness in his courtyard,
On the 6th of December the Lord Ram did regard,
From where did such madmen upon my house descend?

Where his footprints had lit the path of right,
Where the stars of love had shimmered their light,
A turn to hatred that same path took -
What is their religion, what's their caste, knows who?
Had my house not burnt would I've recognized them in the night,
Those men who came to my house in order to set it alight?
Vegetarian, my friend, are your daggers.

It was at Babur that you'd aimed your rocks,
It is my head's fault that it bleeds and balks,
In the Saryu Ram had barely washed his feet,
With bloody blotches the water was replete,
From the riverbank arose Ram without washing his feet,
Saying this from his home he did retreat:
The air of my capital city has turned vile,
6 of December I am sentenced to a second exile.


  1. Ahhh!!!

    Lovely... Thanks for sharing...


    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Manreet. I had only heard about Doosra Banwas, but this is the first time I am reading it and hearing it. Brought a lump to my throat.

  3. @ thatandthisinmumbai: Glad you connected with it - awesome poetry!