By Bashabi Fraser
The stadium is full. The roar of voices is from a fascinated crowd.
But this is no match between players confronting
Each other in a game of active participation
Played by rules that both sides know and understand.
This is a grim sport, where one is the condemned victim –
Unheard, undefended against a mighty state that
Is all powerful, like a god, but not all merciful and compassionate.
This crowd has gathered to witness justice being done
To a woman who has dared to kill a man who was intent
On snuffing her life out in a frenzy of ownership and utter control.
She does not hear the tumult now. A silence surrounds her
As if she is floating in an underwater film where she cannot
Hear the world above the waves or feel the sun on her skin
As she has never known the warmth of its nurturing rays.
She stumbles on the flowing folds of her burqa, her hands
Tied under it behind her back, making her gait awkward
As the man behind her shoves her forward with the hard
Nozzle of his poised gun which she feels against her aching
Back. She kneels as ordered and holds her head steady,
Her mind on the little girl and her mother who are now free
From his imaginative torture, free to leave and free to grow.
She remembers the Friday revelry in another country
Where men walk to the city square to marvel and revel
In beheadings and crucifixion. She remembers reading
Of a sister being stoned somewhere by a decree
Passed by one man in a remote village where he plays god.
She knows that across the Atlantic, perhaps at this very moment,
One man sits in a chair drugged with a lethal injection
And another is hung by an executioner in a closed prison
In the name of civilisation and justice on the other side of the globe.
Is it condonable when a modern nation with a collared judge decrees
It and it occurs in a private sanctioned place, supported by the
State machine? Is this more barbaric because of the spectacle –
A public circus inviting a multitude’s gaze? She does not hear the swish of the
Sword. She does not wail, spoiling for once the sport of these joy starved men.
Bashabi Fraser is a transnational writer who has lived in London, Kolkata and Darjeeling and now lives and writes in Edinburgh. She is a poet, editor, children’s writer, translator and critic. Her recent publications include Ragas & Reels (poems on migration and diaspora, 2012), Scots Beneath the Banyan Tree: Stories from Bengal (2012); From the Ganga to the Tay (an epic poem, 2009); Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (2006; 2008), A Meeting of Two Minds: the Geddes Tagore Letters (2005) and Tartan & Turban (poetry collection, 2004). Bashabi is a Professor of English and Creative Writing and Joint Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs, which she has helped to establish) at Edinburgh Napier University. Bashabi is also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow based at the University of Dundee.
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