Alone, I never saw him
And yet, whenever I saw him he was alone
Like a spring somewhere in the desert
Or a lighthouse in the ocean
Or like thought amidst engulfing prejudice
For centuries, thought has always stood alone
For centuries, consciousness has always stood alone.
And alone he wandered
Through worlds new and old
In mute darkness sometimes
And sometimes, in the scorching sun
And sometimes, in the moonlight of a dream
His destiny was an uending search
He looked for himself in every story he read.
Burdens bent his back
But in stature he grew taller still
In struggle between good and evil
Or in battles worthy in life
He was always the first martyr
The first always to ascend the cross
Not one, but twenty-six lamps,
One by one, I have lighted today.
One I lit in the name of freedom
With burning lips it said:
Ask for wheat from any nation
We have the freedom to beg.
One I lit in the name of prosperity
The moment it was lighted
It illuminated our confused reality:
My stomach is empty, my pocket is empty.
One I lit in the name of unity
Wherever its light was able to reach
We saw communities lose amity
We saw a mother's shelter breach
Its joints coming apart simultaneously.
Exasperated, my wife shouted out
Oil is dear and just not there
Why have you lighted so many lamps
o balcony or terrace, our house is bare
There is no place for dreams anywhere.
A wavw of anger
Blew away the lamps
But, yes, just one remained
Its name is hope and it flickers on.
You can read more poems of Kaifi Azmi translated to English http://www.azmikaifi.com/collection/english-translation/