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.
Well done, Roomy. Good one!
Very powerful. Why is it only those with puffed up chests who get the glory?
I remember exactly how much I careless about parades when I was young.
But I have seen how much excited children like me who just love to see
Colorful banners and flags in those parades. How their eyes almost
Do not blink so they won’t miss a thing.
I wasn’t really happy with parades too when I was younger
And today I realized totally how I careless about it. Careless in a way that I’m like,
What are those people celebrating for? For me it became just a ritual
that I have to attend the program and be part of it especially when
I was in grade school that I have to put costumes on and sing in front of
people who celebrates it and I don’t remember being happy about it.
And after reading the poem you made I was like I could totally relate to it.
I then wondered why I hated to see it. But
What kind of parade does a child wouldn’t want to see?
And the story that says why, is what exactly on your poem.
When we had war many years ago, in different countries and territories,
People celebrates after the war. But are we really celebrating what comes after the war?
The child in the story sees pride of men who survived the war.
But why does the child feel ashamed of it?
Because in the eyes of a child, winning against all countries is not to be celebrated,
When they see dead people, bloodshed, broken families..
Crying widows and those abandoned children, women raped..so what is left to be celebrated?
Why do we celebrate instead of mourning for those who died and those who were left with nothing?
Is it because of pride? The child hated to see that and instead wanted to parade his toy soldier.
The child sees inside of those parade and hates the people showing off their pride over the dead ones.
Parades are noisy..too loud because they are proud. Yes, older people would understand that.
But in the eyes of a child, they see beyond the parade but they could not even explain it to themselves.
They just know how bad it feels. That is how it is for a young mind and heart.
Those who were left without a husband or wife, without their kids and anyone from their family..
Those parades are just too loud for a child.
The agony of pageantry can be understood by a poignant subject and words. Grateful!
Arresting words…audacious and truthful.
Thanks dear Roomy !
I’ve just read a report from Brazil where FIFA is on. Condors is a company which bagged unprecedented orders to supply water canons, tear gas shells, non fatal rubber bullets for the use against people’s protesting on streets. It’s said by 2016 such companies are going to see their best days when Olympics would be held in Brazil.
I’m not sure about the supply from this company to our country….!
Very touching Roomy!!
Poignant and true to our times. The pride and the shame are both a part of our everyday realities.
“Small echoes of voices that never reverberate.” Poignant!
Amazingly true! you have captured the untold misery of our democracy.
Really thoughtful and touching.
Well said Roomy! We sure want a better perspective of things.
I come across this seven years after it was penned! Emotive and thought provoking expression. A true fact. Keep writing & sharing, Roomy!