Gentle protest poems


(For human rights activist Shahid Azmi)

Before you started wearing,
That black coat of yours in
Dust and anger filled court rooms
This society had already
Painted you black.
For in this country;
Your past never leaves you.
And judgement happens on drawing rooms,
And in tea shops, in bustling streets.
But they tend to forget that
In the silence of those camps in PoK
Broken by intermittent gun shots
You found your truth: that injustice
Was meted out to you,
So that you could deliver justice.
And you did.
With a gun hanging on your head
You shouted help for others.
The people who killed you
In a mild February night of 2011
Were afraid of you Shahid,
They were afraid of your conviction
Of that simple belief:
“Presumed Innocent until proved guilty”.

I am sorry Shahid,
I live in a country
Which desperately needs more
People like you,
People who fight their fights
With nothing to hang on to
But their beliefs.
And yet we remember you,
Only when your life becomes a
Two and a half hour viewing experience.
I am so very sorry Shahid.
There’s so little of you in me (as yet).


What is a guitar?

Its silence playing


On six strings

To the beat of the heart.

What does a guitar do?

It puffs gently some cold breeze

Into the embers that twinkle in our souls.

Until we can’t tolerate the heat

And break out into a melodic conversation

With Time.

What does a guitar say?

It speaks of the many souls

Who had hopes in their hearts

Beauty in their minds

And fingers on humanity’s pulse.

Who strummed nothingness

Into action.

The Mexican farmer, thatAfrican toddler

The Venetian boatman and the

Drug infested hippie.

Why must we play the guitar?

For we don’t play it,

It plays us and when it does,

We must unscrew our tight knots

And let ourselves be taken for a ride

Through a tunnel of mirrors

With our voice for company….


Sometimes a thought comes to me
Slowly on tip-toes;
Like a butterfly with wounded wings.
All I do is nurture her
Caress her wings, and slowly
I hear a story.
Being poured in my ears, like honey.
Stories that take place
Right in front of my eyes,
But which I hardly see.

These thoughts that I enflame
Doesn’t speak to me at times.
I have to lie waiting,
Sometimes like a sniper.
And after all that too;
Sometimes, all I get is
A beautiful silence.

It all becomes a play
Of patience and desperation.
At times, words put my heart
On an asphyxiated trial.
But all I can come up are
Obscure sighs on paper.

While at other times,
It is as if my pen doesn’t need
The grip of my fingers.
It wants to play on Paper
And words become Lego blocks.
And all I do is admire
The structure that eventually comes up.

Whatever it might be;
An outcome of desperation or waiting,
When a poem takes shape;
I feel relieved,
As if my heart was a paper
that wanted to dance in the wind,
And the poem a paper weight,
That held it down.

But after so many trials and errors, I know
It shouldn’t ever be forgotten.
That one never writes a poem,
A poem just gets written.


Let us build a ship
And sail away
To a far-off land where no one
But you and I exist.
We will go there with nothing
Except our naked souls.
We will invent a language
Which only you and I would understand.
Both of us would
Make sense of each other’s unspoken words
When we sail we
Shall travel to the future
By going back to our past.
We will reach the end
Of the very beginning.
We will begin from the very end.
Through us we will encapture life.
From us life will find the zenith
Of all its possibilities.

Let us begin then
From where we are not.
To reach
Where nobody thinks we can ever arrive at.


I have nothing much to say

A thousand nights follow

Each of my days.

Yes, I have occasional dreams of flight

But then, with my destination in sight

I fall heavy with grief

With invisible winds holding sway.

My heart is a red volcano

From which, words as magma flows away.

I sometimes wonder if I can paint with

My hollow words, Paint life with

As much vigour as a Matisse did in his day

And I strive for that Life, that intensity

In the light of all my dying days …

Bistirna Barua

Bistirna Barua

Bistirna Barua writes, because writing is his exorcism. In a world defined by money-status-power, his aim is to change the currency to words. Words gift him peace. And a realization that when sound meets silence sans an ego, magic becomes possible. He is currently posted as Assistant Commissioner, Dhubri.