‘Priye Laal Qila’ : The Selling of Our History

Dilli se guzarte hue
Aa jaate the jab tum saamne
Toh keh deti thi maa,
“Beta yeh Laal Qila hai”
Bachpan mein
Tere Diwan-e-Aam aur Diwan-e-Khas
Ne toh Mughal Badshaah se lekar
Congress se RSS ko sultanate dekar
Sab dekha hai
Voh Indira ki Emergency
Voh Rajiv ka LPG
Voh Vajpayee ki kavitaayein
Aur Manmohan ki chup chup sadaayein
Laal Qila, ek baat bataaun?
Tere Lahore Gate pe jab Jawaharlal ne pehli baar tiranga lahairya
Jab 2003 mein Archaeological Survey waalo ne tujhe thap-thapaya
Tab se lekar aaj tak mujhe tu na laga itna paraaya
Aaj Bharat Dalmiya ne khareed liya tujhe
Maa kehti thi paise se akhand bhavishya nahi paa sakte
Lekin aaj mera ateet bik gaya
Teri baahon mein toh aaj kal ka Romeo apni Juliet ko sapne dikhaata tha
Lekin jo tu itna chup tha, kya tu apne bik jaane ka dard chupaata tha?
‘Adopt a Heritage’ mein bech diya aaj itihaas
Naa jaane kal paise mein kya tol ke nilaam kar dega ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’


The poet has provided an English translation.

Dear Red Fort,
While passing through the streets of Delhi,
Whenever you would be passed by,
My mother would make an effort
To point you out and say,
“This is the Red Fort.”
During younger years
Your halls of public and private residence
Have witnessed history
From the Mughal King
To the Congress to RSS ceding
From Indira’s Emergency
From Rajiv’s LPG
From Vajpayee’s poetry
And Manmohan’s quiet ways supposedly
Red Fort, I’ll tell you something?
When the Indian Flag was waived by Jawaharlal for the first time on your Lahore Gate,
In 2003, when the Archaeological Survey Institute restored you
Since then, until now- I’ve never felt so far away from you
Now, Bharat Dalmiya has bought you
My mother would say, “money can’t build a future of integrity.”
But today, my past has been sold
When the modern day Romeo would give dreams to his Juliet in your arms
Was your silence, hiding the pain of being sold, and not, one of your charms
‘Adopt a Heritage’ has sold our history
I wonder what all in the future, shall be auctioned and sold under, ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikaas.’


Tanessa Puri is a third-year student at Jindal Global Law School. She has written two books of poems, launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival and her poems have been published as preludes to various CBSE textbooks.