Who Wants Peace, Baybeh?

This was published on Feb 27, 2003; it was dedicated to "those who, even after a year, have yet to learn from Godhra and Gujarat and hatred". Today, I reproduce it here for Karachi and what is happening there. Places change, but some things remain the same.

Who Wants Peace, Baybeh?
Farzana Versey
February 27, 2003

Don’t talk about peace, baybeh.
It ain’t no good to walk the mile
With a dove that looks like
It’s carrying an unborn child.
Swollen wombs must be ripped open
For only then can you have a reason
To release feathered birds
In a sky
As empty as a curfew street.
Where are the clouds, baybeh?
Bring down the rains
Let it pour like honey.
The cloying sweetness
Will enter my pores
Welcome squirts in little holes
Hovels of our souls.
Skin and rain
Will then be the same.

Madame X sniffed the air.
She was here to kill
In a leopard print dress
That made her look a little less
Alluring than a beast.
She whispered to me,
Dahling, I collect antiques,
I am here to pick up some history.
I wonder what is for sale…
I showed her the scarred wall
That went up in flames.
Little babies got burnt in the fire.
Aw, pity-pitee, she drawled.
But that’s just a year old story
And are children history?
I agreed they were not.
She was smarter than I thought.

Would she care to come with me outside
And see a weathered face in the sunlight?
I showed her Tai, who’s been sitting for years
In that one place
Watching well-shod feet
Hoping the shoes might give way.
Many storms have lashed against her skin
The deeper indentations are within.
Would she do, I asked my guest…
Not quite, she said.
If you had noticed inside
There was a picture displayed
In sepia tones
Of a woman just like that.

We returned to the sanctity
Of soft musical ripples
Manicured hands conducting a symphony
Of subtle sniffles.
This is real history,
Said Madame X…
A projector whirred.
The wall shook with stills
From an old war film.
The images naked:
And then:
Hollow eyes
Dry eyes
Vacant eyes
Hopeless eyes
Blind eyes
Blinded eyes.
This is history, I was told
When you cannot see.

As I was leaving
X came up to me and said,
Do you think you are the only one who feels?
Scratch your skin and you will find me.
You can do nothing
Neither can I.
But I buy history
And pay for someone’s tomorrow.
What do you to do?

I said I stocked up on mascara
So when I cry
My lashes can write
History on my cheeks.
My painted lips will speak history
Behind closed doors
Where you have eyes only
For recreated sights.
Watch the wars and the wounds
They will be the past soon
Then you can come with me
And enter the marketplace
And buy and sell
What you saw yesterday --
Trishuls and trinkets
Even a model of a burning train.

I have coloured my dove red.
Now when you shoot at it and the blood congeals
I will not know it is dead.
Who wants peace, baybeh?
Let me breathe the fetid air
And bottle it for posterity.


Amandeep said...


How is Karachi thing similar. Please explain... Gujarat was religious hatred and personal ignorance. Karachi is power-play and a one-up thing... personal sneers

FV said...


A bit surprised by your reaction. This poem has not specified any particular region, but I honestly admitted when it was written: "dedicated to 'those who, even after a year, have yet to learn from Godhra and Gujarat and hatred'.

It is about those who do not learn from carnages, destruction and hatred...and political power-play is a constant. I happened to be witness to such destructions personally in both countries. Had I penned a political article you might have seen what I have to say. But right now for me it is a human tragedy. One more.

Le M:

Yes. This is what I believe, which is why I put it up...

circle said...

My soul has turned black...I can only C darknesss inside me...
No hope of any repair or redemption....
My soul is scarred with old and new memories of human blood, human pieces scattered on the roads.....

My soul is giving up on me....
Karachi tragedy....sigh*
I wish to share my agony with you, my dear blog...May be U'll understand....ahh,may be....

I visit this blog just for the serene moments...I know future is blood shed...I C blobs of blood,flesh and bones...
And these are the pieces of my fellow humans...

Who made my fellow humans just blobs of blood?

I feel I am a blob of blood and my own pieces are scattered on the roads........such an agony..

FV said...


I can only wish that all of us could find some peace...This state of despair and destruction captured so well by Sahir:

ye mahalo.n, ye taKto.n, ye taajo.n kii duniyaa
ye inasaa.n ke dushman samaajo.n kii duniyaa
ye daulat ke bhuukhe rivaazo.n kii duniyaa
ye duniyaa agar mil bhii jaaye to kyaa hai

har ek jism ghaayal, har ek ruh pyaasii
nigaaho me.n ulajhan, dilo.n me udaasii
ye duniyaa hai yaa aalam-e-badahavaasii
ye duniyaa ...

jahaa.n ek khilaunaa hai inasaa.n kii hastii
ye bastii hai murdaa-parasto.n kii bastii
jahaa.n aur jiivan se hai maut sastii
ye duniyaa ...

javaanii bhaTakatii hai bezaar banakar
javaa.n jism sajate hai baazaar banakar
jahaa.n pyaar hotaa hai vyaapaar banakar
ye duniyaa ...

ye duniyaa jahaa.n aadamii kuchh nahii.n hai
vafaa kuchh nahii.n, dostii kuchh nahii.n hai
jahaa.n pyaar ki kadr hii kuchh nahii.n hai
ye duniyaa ...

jalaa do, jalaa do ise phuu.nk Daalo ye duniyaa
mere saamane se haTaa lo ye duniyaa
tumhaarii hai tum hii sambhalo ye duniyaa, ye duniyaa ...

Amandeep said...


It was no reaction :-)
only a question. I have been following the Karachi/Islamabd broil on TV and was treating the whole episode in some other way. The typical Pakistan political stuff..that is. So could not connect with the piece.

Being a Sikh... I am now a little confused what to make of the recent turmoil over the Sacha Sauda chief's doing.

To be honest... my mother and sister stay away from me in Punjab and we have spoken many times this last week but I somehow dont seem to remember talking about the situation there. I dont see a context anywhere Farzana. My Mausi (mom's sister) lives in Hyderabad... I did not call her after the blasts...

Am I missing something about the whole context Farzana? How come these incidents dont affect me the way they affect you?

Make sense????

P.S. I have realized that I am not commenting properly. My thoughts are confusing.

FV said...


The context is the human tragedy from both sides - innocent victims and predators, be they politicians, religious leaders, or even the Madame X types. We see them everywhere...(I have stuffed MY leopard print dress somewhere away from sight!). Please see that the writer suffers from guilt too, when Madame X questions her and says 'what are you doing?"

I think it is this helplessness which is evident in your current post. After the Babri masjid destruction had a huge impact on me;my mother was quite composed. Why? In this case, I was in those riot-torn areas, in the left-over remains of homes...so naturally I saw it differently.

Besides, I do react a bit too strongly to 'emotional' aspects. Dekho na, I get worried about the absence of regulars here...they just don't feel the same:)