Republic Day, 2014
by Roomy Naqvy
What do we parade in or parade out?
Military might with half-naked kids.
Supersonic jets over riot survivor camps.
I wanted to parade a toy soldier,
Impotent and unmanly,
In this country of men and manners.
I asked the police for permission.
They said, sorry,
We only parade puffed up chests.
Could we think of parading anything?
Yes, half-baked protests,
Water cannons, newspaper headlines.
Is there anything else we could parade?
Yes, crying widows, abandoned children,
Women raped and left to die.
I saw the parade,
There was such pride.
I feel a great shame.
Are we seeing in or showing off?
I also want to celebrate a different parade:
Small echoes of voices that never reverberate.
Roomy Naqvy (b. 1971) teaches English literature in the department of English at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. He has written for Tehelka, Indian Literature, and Wasafiri. He enjoys writing poetry and is currently grappling with his first novel.