THE GATHERING IN JALLIANWALA BAGH
As the clock struck five on thirteenth April
They all gather in the Bagh, my friends.
Seeking justice fair and honour, they stand
Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims together, my friends.
Folks young and old, and lads went too
For only a handful had stayed back, my friends.
They went to speak, to share their grief
Place lives at stake without fear, my friends.
Worrying no more about their precious lives
They left this world behind, my friends.
With slender hope of coming back home
Desires and dreams abandoned too, my friends.
With their own blood, they wanted to bloom
The parched soil of the Bagh, my friends.
Like swarms of moths, they gathered around
To be singed by violent flames, my friends.
Fed up with life, they courted death
Forcing Yama to accept their will, my friends.
Like Mansour, who said, ‘I am the Truth!’
When he knew he’d meet the gallows,
Like Shams Tabrizi, whose quest for God
Ended up in a painful death, my friends.
* * *
Like birds from the woods, they flocked together
So the hawk could have his fill, my friends.
To quench Dyer’s deadly thirst
With streams of blood their own, my friends.
Ah! My city mourns with grief today
Happy homes lie shattered because they go.
Heads held high offered for sacrifice
For Bharat Mata’s pride and honour, they go.
Pray, stop these valiant souls of God!
Straight to the abyss, they rise and go.
O mothers, watch your precious sons
To give up their youthful lives, they go.
O sisters, hold back your brothers dear
You won’t see them again once they go.
O wives, hang on to your dear beloveds
Or you’ll spend your lives widowed, if
O children, go run and hug your fathers
‘Cause you’ll be orphans if they go.
Stop them, hold them, do what you can
They won’t come back, once they go.
Says Nanak Singh, Can’t stop them now
For nation’s sake to die they go.
BRIG. GEN DYER ARRIVES, GUNFIRE BEGINS
Five-thirty sharp the clock had struck
Thousands gathered in the Bagh, my friends.
Leaders came to lament the nation’s woes
Taking turns to speak out loud, my friends.
Voiced grievance, hardship, anger, sorrow
Saying, no one listens to us, my friends.
What can we do, what options left?
Can’t see any ray of light, my friends.
Those words forlorn, they barely voiced
Came soldiers thundering down, my friends.
At Dyer’s command, those Gurkha troops
Gathered in a formation tight, my friends.
Under the tyrant’s orders, they opened fire
Straight into innocent hearts, my friends.
And fire and fire and fire they did
Some thousands of bullets were shot,
Like searing hail they felled our youth
A tempest not seen before, my friends.
Riddled chests and bodies slid to the ground
Each one a target large, my friends.
Haunting cries for help did rend the sky
Smoke rose from smouldering guns, my friends.
Just a sip of water was all they sought
Valiant youth lay dying in the dust, my friends.
* * *
That narrow lane to enter the Bagh
Sealed off on Dyer’s command, my friends.
No exit, no escape, no way out was left
Making the Bagh a deathly trap, my friends.
A fortunate few somehow survived
While most died then and there, my friends.
Some ran with bullets ripping their chest
Stumbling to their painful end, my friends.
Others caught the bullet while running away
Dropping lifeless in awkward heaps, my friends.
In minutes, the Bagh so strewn with corpses
None knew just who was who, my friends.
Many of them did look like Sikhs
Amid Hindus and Muslims plenty, my friends.
In the prime of their youth, our bravehearts lay
Gasping for one last breath, my friends.
Long hair lay matted in blood and grime
In slumber deep they sleep, my friends.
Says Nanak Singh, Who knows their state
But God the One and Only, my friends.
PEOPLE WAILING AS THEY BRING THE CORPSES OF LOVED ONES
With faces drawn and muffled sobs
They sift through the corpses in silent fear.
Like moth on a flame, hearts burn to ashes
On seeing the fate of sons so dear.
Ah! The pain of losing a child so precious
Like the heart is pierced with dagger or spear.
Grief inconsolable melts the toughest of souls
Even faces most stoic shed tear after tear.
Excerpted with permission from the publisher