• Monday, Aug 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:35 pm

A poem for Mira Sen

  • Published at 06:24 pm July 13th, 2020
Painting: Ganesh Pyne
Painting: Ganesh Pyne

In memory of the Bengali woman who lived in Lahore

Whose voices meld into the wind

When the city pretends to sleep? 

You pass by the crushed houses

And hear them speak:

Some girls laugh,

Their ankle chains clank 

Behind the remains 

Of a demolished jharoka;

Some men speak at a distance,

Beneath the rubble

Of a wall 

Whose yellow bricks 

Sway

In the dried rivers

Of the past.

 

She must have lived 

In one of these houses –

Mira Sen, the Bengalun,

Who made him a poet:

The man with untamed hair,

Whose curls had been washed

With the secret scents of dust.

The man who was the lover

And the beloved;

His poems were glowing with lust.

 

The woman remained unaware

Of his existence

For he eternally stayed away

And watched from a distance: 

The balconies 

Which wore a cosmic light. 

His hollow eyes

Longed for the woman’s warmth;

Her body, bathed in a fulgent ocean,

Was dressed in a vesture 

Knitted with shells and pearls.

The man was blessed 

With a curse

That made him whirl

Around the sun setting from her breasts,

Igniting the barren lands 

Of his being.  

 

And before he disappeared, 

There was poison 

In his poise, music

In his noise. 

 

But what about her,

The Bengali woman? 

Who graced Lahore

With her presence

And is blamed 

For turning that Urdu poet

Into an insect

Who died a lonely death.

 

And who was named after her,

Wandering in despair, in desire, 

How Mirabai must have roamed, 

Seeking Krishna,

In the deserts 

Of snow and fire. 

 

Was she his lover?

Was she his mother

Who gave birth to him

After some sacred affair with God?

 

No one knows much about the woman. 

When your state demolished her abode,

You passed by that road 

Which was now too wide. 

The ruins did not remind you 

Of any genocide. 

 

* Mira Sen was a Bengali woman who used to live in Lahore. She was the love interest and muse of the modern Urdu poet Meeraji, named after her. He was just 37 when he died in 1949, in Mumbai.  


Ammar Aziz is a poet and filmmaker from Lahore, Pakistan. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Wild Court, Muse India, Femasia Magazine, and elsewhere.

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