Congratulations! Your Silence Has Won!

Did the Holocaust happen suddenly
With a Big Bang?
It was slow cooking
Slow. Clinical. Sweeping.

History was erased.
Men were made demons.
Graves were levelled.
The visible were made invisible.
Wali Dakhani* became a flat road.
The rapists were called sanskari!*

I often visit the charred bodies
In my dream
I ask them
What led them to the gas chamber
What songs did the perpetrators sing?
They reply very fast–
It’s the silence of our neighbours.
Dead silence. Haunting silence.

I don’t dare to ask them
Was the silence loud
Like I am hearing now
In buses, TV rooms, newspapers
Kitchens and Parliament?

The smell of burnt skins is so contagious
I feel the smell on my skin.
Congratulations! For your deafening silence.
You have won.

*Wali Dakhani: A sufi poet whose grave was destroyed in 2002 Godhra riots. His dargah was considered a holy place by all the people irrespective of their religious beliefs.

*sanskari: One MLA who called Bilkis Bano’s rapists “sanskari” has won a seat in the Gujarat assembly election 2022.

Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal. Her poetry collection, The Musings of the Dark, was published in 2020. The book has about a hundred poems written in protest against the humanitarian crisis from the revocation of Article 370, the Delhi riots, and the Shaheen Bagh movement, to the unbearable sufferings of the migrant labourers due to the unplanned COVID – induced lockdown.

Featured image: Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel (fifth from the left), state BJP president C.R. Patil (sixth from the left) and others after the BJP won the Gandhinagar municipal corporation Election, at BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar, Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Photo: PTI