The Moplah Speaks of Rivers
(after Langston Hughes)
I’ve known vales
With rivers of emerald
I’ve known rivers.
The rivers of Jannah,
Are in Malappuram.
Amu Darya, Nile, Euphrates, Kadalundi
With mermaids playing oppana,
Its golden sunsets
Caught, in my nets.
Ancient as the world and older than men,
Rivers, that flow red with human blood
From human veins.
‘The water, is thicker than the blood’
My rooh, has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Nila, when subah was young.
I built my wooden ships near the sea.
And sailed on it.
I heard the singing of Arabian Sea shores
As Gandhi picked up a fistful of salt,
I saw its bluish shores,
Blush purple in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My rooh has grown deep like the rivers.
The Country of Infidel Airplanes
(for Agha Shahid Ali)
“If wrappings of cloth can impart respectability, the most respectable persons are the Egyptian mummies, all wrapped in layers and layers of gauze” ~ Kamala Suraiyya Das
Let me wail, and
Howl in that void of the soul.
I await that void,
My loneliness unravelling the gauze:
Mappila, Moplah, Mahapillai, Mapla,
Mamanpillai, Mapplachi, Moplamar,
Malaybari, Maplah, Mappilla, Moor,
Moori, Methan, Mollakka, Koya, Kaka.
She reinvents Jannathul Firdaus (I, Malappuram)
These are champaka flowers that will never fall,
A night in which Suraiyya needs no pass
The houris, are still dancing,
Their blessed hands,
Will light the lamps together.
Umar Nizarudeen has a PhD in early modern mystical poetry of Kerala from the Center for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is interested in a range of themes, including subaltern studies, post-journalism, Intersectional Matrilineal fiction, Black fabulations, Dalit life writing and autoethnography. He has taught in various colleges of Delhi University, University of Kerala and the University of Calicut.