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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 38 New Delhi September 10, 2016

Irom Sharmila

Friday 9 September 2016, by Sagari Chhabra

You had the will to stay
Without food
For sixteen years;
So that our conscience awakens!
Your act of non-violence
In a sea of violence—
Rapes, arrests, wanton deaths
By the army, with impunity,
Touches deep within,
And will stay till infinity.
 
The salt that Gandhi once made
While walking to Dandi,
Now has by its side,
The iconic image
Of your feeding tube.
You resist violence
By denying yourself taste;
Make haste, O world!
Listen to this voice,
It carries within it—
As you place a sea-shell by the ear
You can distinctly hear,
The roar of the ocean—
The cries of thousands of dispossessed
Suffering people.
 
The gesture
Is a silent one,
But so potent,
So full of love.
I salute your courage Irom,
for bringing home,
To my generation
—ahimsa.

August 9, 2016 Sagari Chhabra

(On Irom Sharmila breaking her fast after 16 years. She was fed by a feeding tube inserted through her nostril, by the state.)

(Poet, playwright, filmmaker and author, Sagari Chhabra’s latest book is In Search of Freedom—Journeys through India and South-East Asia; it has been awarded the National Laadli Media Award)