It’s 1941 to 1943 or 2023…

Tell me, friend

You’re Varian Fry*

Paul Kandjo*

Albert or Mary Jane.*

Would you be one?


A politician is cooking food on a news channel,

the king is photographing in a zoo,

a taxi driver has poured water

in a thirsty child’s mouth –

all are breaking news.

News to cover the news.


A hundred years old Madrasah

has been torched down.

People were shouting –

India me rehna hoga…

The sentence remained incomplete.

Before the sentence could end

the books became ashes.


Books are always burnt before

humans are put into the gas chamber –

A prelude. A Starter.

In Radio Rwanda

Breaking News is

Two mafias have been encountered

In front of the camera.

Victory. Celebration.

Boom Boom Boom.


“Undesirables” and “termites” are to be killed-

It’s the lesson the books can’t teach.

But the news and mobs can.


Will you be a Varian,

Paul or Mary or Lisa

For me, my friend?


Why are you silent?

Another breaking news on Radio Rwanda…

Note: Varian Fry, Paul Kandjo, Mary Jane, and Lisa Fittko along with many others showed exemplary courage and resilience during Hitler’s rule and saved almost 2000 Jews from imminent death. They saved many notable figures like Hannah Arendt, André Breton, Marc Chagall and Max Ernst.

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 abrogation 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 illustration by Pariplab Chakraborty.