Bridges of Separation


Karmishtha Krishna

Dear Dadi,
This is the truest apology.

For all the times I've heard your stories
But not listened;

While your wrinkled eyes wrinkled even more
And your tattered lips spoke
Words out of sheer abandonment.
About how your family
Took pride in its nobility
About how the partition of 1947 snatched it all
Like wet clothes being squeezed
Like soft cotton being shredded

I'm sorry, I did not listen;

While your wrinkled eyes watered
And your mellowed lips spoke
Words out of sheer nostalgia.
About the gratefulness for one chapati a day
In flooded refugee camps;
About the warmth of falling into your mother’s arms
After months of living among strangers

I'm sorry, I did not listen;

While your misty eyes gleamed
And your riveted lips spoke
Words out of sheer strength.
About how new homes were built
More emotionally, than physically
More mindsets, than bricks
More hopes, than resources.

The naive me apologizes for blabbering -
“Wow, Dadi! Aap toh partition ke hero nikle.”
I saw your tired eyes sigh
And your tattered lips speak
“Voh bahaduri nahi, majboori thi beta.”

Bob Marley once said,
“You never know how strong you are
Until being strong is your only choice.”
I’m truly sorry,
That your self-dependence emerged from involuntary loneliness.
That your independence was left behind
In a house that even Google Earth can’t spot anymore.
That channels of freedom in your heart
Still echo - “I am temporary.”

I’m sorry, I judged you
During an India Pakistan cricket match;
While your overwhelmed eyes raged
And your infuriated lips pressed against each other
The rebellious teen in me
Poured out speeches of world peace and acceptance
Targeted towards the apparent intolerance;
Subconsciously drowning the tragedies of separation -
Separation of families, friends and professions
Separation of not just a country, but a homeland.

I'm sorry, I argued
About life being tougher now.
About schools of thought being better now.
How did you silently let
The permanent estrangement from your loved ones
Lose to irrational immaturity?
While I fought for my generational ego
I forgot to fight for sensitivity.
I forgot to fight for the million martyrs of humanity
Who were denied the right
To simply exist.

I’m ashamed –
That you gradually stopped telling me your stories
Because I heard, but barely listened
I'm guilty –
That memories in your mind
Making your forehead furrow
Serve valorous for minds like mine.

I’m afraid -
That though your strength inspires me,
I might never be bold enough
To show you this apology letter.
But I’ve told the world who my hero is
And someday, I hope
I gather the courage to tell you.

Yours always,
Your beloved granddaughter.

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