by Shaheryar Ali

Fire billows from the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on 27/11/08

Once again they have attacked, at the heart of Bombay. Bombay is every thing which they hate. Bombay is Freedom, Bombay is Life, Bombay is Music, Bombay is Light. This is the  attack on city of Lights. 100 people have been killed in cold blood. The attack is an attempt to over throw Indian democracy and secularism. The madness which has engulfed this world due to George Bush’s and OBL’s war of Terror has now struck  India.

Mumbai citizen reads the morning newspaper on 27/11/08

India stands as an anti thesis of every thing on which OBL and Bush believe. A country with many languages, cultures and religions and yet a nation united on the principles of democracy , secularism, equality and social justice and modernism..

They will fail to destroy India , they will fail to destroy the thousands of years old tradition of culture of tolerance and wisdom. Bombay lives, united and whole, full of lights and music, it will once again be. Prophets of darkness can never defeat Light. Because Light is eternal because Light is truth .  Bombay is the new Beirut , a war zone , where Imperialists  and Fascists play havoc. But neither did Beirut surrender nor will Bombay.

The gloomy night which came to city of lights has reminded me the lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz , which he wrote for Lahore. “O city of Lights”. Today his city is Bombay. Today our city is Bombay and we will not surrender.

“City of Lights”

On each patch of green, from one shade to the next,
the noon is erasing itself by wiping out all color,
becoming pale, desolation everywhere,
the poison of exile painted on the walls.
In the distance,
there are terrible sorrows, like tides:
they draw back, swell, become full, subside.
They’ve turned the horizon to mist.
And behind that mist is the city of lights,
my city of many lights.

How will I return to you, my city,
where is the road to your lights? My hopes
are in retreat, exhausted by these unlit, broken walls,
and my heart, their leader, is in terrible doubt.

But let all be well, my city, if under
cover of darkness, in a final attack,
my heart leads its reserves of longings
and storms you tonight. Just tell all your lovers
to turn the wicks of their lamps high
so that I may find you, Oh, city,
my city of many lights.

(Translated by Agha Shahid Ali)