The last two days saw the 65th anniversary of the independence of Pakistan and India after over a century of British colonial rule. Whilst a jubilant event, independence was followed by the tragedy of the bloody partition, which resulted in a struggle between the new states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people. Estimates of the loss of life vary from several hundred thousand to a million and the violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to this day, an irony considering the peaceful methods used by Gandhi in the early days of the independence campaign.
Maybe we can learn from this 65 years later and try to avoid ugly sectarian conflicts in partitioned lands. Maybe when a future state wishes to become independent from its neighbour, it will be done with neighbourly courtesy and free from acrimony. Even more pressing for two nations that are both nuclear powers, maybe the states of India and Pakistan may follow a Gandhian path and turn to peaceful co-existence.
At the midnight hour,
We had our tryst with destiny,
After long years of oppression,
Long years of a foreign yoke,
At the midnight hour we became free.
Yet cheers soon gave way to howls of pain,
Screams, tears of grief,
As a line on a map tore a line through you and me,
Scrambling to be on the right side,
We tossed our common humanity, our brotherly bonds aside,
The Mahatma’s peace gave way to war,
Blood on our hands for decades or more.
Yet 65 years have passed of acrimony,
Yet why can’t we change our destiny,
At the midnight hour we were born as brothers,
At the midnight hour we both became free,
Free to hate, yet free to love once more,
At the midnight hour we both became free.
Today, the olympics recieved the official poetic treatment by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whose powerful poem featured very topical lines ‘for every medal earned, we want school playing-fields returned‘ , thus tapping in to a wider anxiety about a legacy after these golden games. Inspired by Duffy’s poem, I offer my own tribute to the Olympics.
Golden days (London 2012)
In the sunshine we’ve enjoyed the haze,
Glinting from these golden days,
From john o’groats to lands end,
From Manchester to the East End
In the midst of grey austerity cold,
We saw gold.
New heroes in the national pantheon,
Mo farah, Jess Ennis,Chris hoy,
We shared in the tears that fell, tears of joy.
We lay in marvel at Team GB,
In marvel in what we all could be,
That we could achieve, if we believe.
Yet what happens when the party is over,
The world has gone home, when we’re sober?
Will there be still grassy fields, running tracks,
To churn future medals aplenty,
Or will they, along with promises remain destined to be empty?
We need to create a burning flame to light the way,
For the future beyond the haze of those golden days.
My poetic tribute to Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and the rest of our golden Team GB.
It’s mystical lustre,
The feel of it around your neck,
For your talents,
All you want is gold
Your nations adulation.
A girl from the city of steel,
With steely determination and an iron will,
She strives only for gold.
A man who called this nation his home,
The finish line within his sights to conquer,
For Mo, only gold.
Through raw talent, hard graft,
These alchemists produce a miracle,
Transforming into gold.
For the flying flag,
For the payoff of many years of blood sweat and tears,
For the people willing you to cross the line, to win,
For me and you,
Only gold will do,