Sameera Khan lives and works in New York. She has a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and her work has appeared in DNA India, Rediff and HuffPost. She is usually found on twitter (@Sameera22), guzzling the barrage of breaking news in the U.S. and farrago of opinions in India.
That first Eid after the 1984 riots, my father said,
the Sikhs were lined up outside the Eidgah,
to hug the Muslims.
Insisting friendship, scared and cold.
My father warmed an old man and brought home his fear.
After the 1992 riots, my mother said,
forget everything, forgive everyone.
But the mobs killed me in my dreams for years.
I cried in my sleep, disappointing my mother’s tears.
Long after the 2002 riots, someone said no one was
responsible for the burning tires around children,
the pit of the dead, the swords, the chants, the dirty orphans.
But someone should have been jailed for the bad headlines.
They ask me, how is my writing?
My words have bled to death on mob-infested roads.
They ask me, where is my home?
Anywhere, I say like a beggar, anywhere I won’t feel hunted.
I am not allowed to talk about it, the rules of secularism:
Don’t scream till you can’t bear the pain, or no one will hear you.
So, I carry the riot like an unborn child in me
which slithers in my belly every now and then.
I am afraid it will kill me.