Poetry Corner: Agra, 1948

(C) 2017 Pippa Virdee
The Masjid at the Taj Mahal, Agra. (C) 2017 Pippa Virdee

By Maaz Bin Bilal

I want to tell them frankly that mere declarations of loyalty to the Indian Union will not help them at this critical juncture. They must give practical proof of their declarations.

— You Cannot Ride Two Horses (Speech by Sardar Patel on 6 January 1948, in Lucknow)


Why did you sell your house now, O Khadim?

As hereditary guard of the Taj Mahal, must you not be prim

and proper, when for Pakistan has left,

all your family, most of your kin?


There are four reasons for the sale, Sahib:

I owed debts, and I have daughters to be married,

The refugees living in my house misused it,

My sons have gone, I need money, for when I die, to be buried.


Tut, tut, I am sorry, I am not convinced,

Why now? Never before you felt pinched?

Go fetch positive proof of your faith, in a month,

else lose your job, we believe in your guilt.


Here, Sir, I have brought back from Lahore,

my two single daughters, orphaned grandchildren—four.

The rest won’t come, they fear their old neighbours,

Please don’t fire me, by God, I could do no more.


Original published in EPW: http://www.epw.in/journal/2017/46/postscript/agra-1948.html 



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