Saturday 19 December 2015



I shall not succumb.
To what you want
Terror, hate, intolerance.
I shall not give you the gift
Of my anger, my tears, my sorrow.
My belligerence.
I shall mourn alone,
The blood that was shed;
On the little glass tables,
On the cobbled streets, pavements,
On plush theatre seats.
I too bled.

I was far away that day,
From the big city,
Vortex of gunpowder, blood and hate.
In the concert hall tonight
Perhaps they will play a dirge,
For you, you who are dead.
Your beautiful lives,
Extinguished for ever, when you left
Your own safe homes
For a drink with friends, perhaps a meal
Or a concert, of a Friday night.

Family, friends, acquaintances;
The horror grows as the hours pass
Frantic calls, the number that scrolls,
Ad infinitum, ad nauseam
Across TV screens, etched for a time
On retinas, on our souls.

Candles, flowers, tears of the unknown crowd
That braves the horror, for a moment spent
In quiet silent remembrance.
They did not know you, or maybe they did.
Father, brother, sister, husband, cousin, friend, colleague,
A face seen in the lobby every day,
Memories, fleeting contacts,
In canteens, neighborhood bars, cafés,
Football fields and jogging tracks.

I have met you before, young mademoiselle
Your head on the table,
A glass clutched in your hand
Forever abandoned,
Frozen, disabled.
I know you too, young man, sprawled on the road,
I know that tee shirt – my son has one too;
The black & white logo that you loved
Now soaked in your own blood.
You lay still, your face turned up to the sky
For one last look at the stars perhaps,
Remembering the days gone by.

I have mourned your death in my own way
With flowers, candles, a few quiet tears.
They shall wither, extinguish, and dry out,
Leaving no traces anywhere.
Except in my heart, still heavy with grief,
Devoid of joy or relief.

I shall not succumb
To what you hoped for-
Division, mistrust, psychosis
Towards those with a different faith.
I shall embrace the man who stands still,
A poster saying ‘I am Muslim, will you hug me?’
Disregard the feckless wraith.

I and a million others
Shall fill the roadside cafés again,
Go to concerts, cinemas and football matches,
Walk in Saint Denis like we did before.
You have not won, you shall never win
For hate never triumphs, never will.

Aparajita Sen

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