17 July 2009

“The Martyr’s Song”

(To those who have died for freedom in Iran)

I was born screaming into this world
Wrenched from my mother’s womb.
That pain is now forgotten
But I shall die with dignity
Because it is your hand, Oppressor
Which annihilates me out of this world.

You who have made the law
Who stand above the law
We who are oppressed by it
Have no appeal except to expect
Death by your hands
Not of choice but by brute force.

How will you answer for the red rivers of blood,
Soiling the fair skin of mother Iran?
How will you look into your daughter’s eyes
When ours have been torn apart by rape and murder?
How will you teach conscience to your sons
When your hands are soiled with innocent blood.

I have no revenge, only the will to be remembered
I have no jihad but only prayers for my children
That they may be spared this war of conscience
And your ever present vengeance
That my widowed wife find solace that today
I will be in paradise

But I leave you with one thought,
That the vengeance of mother Iran
For the blood soaking her garments
Will come fast and furious
Unknown on a dark night
Then you will remember each of our names

The names of Sohrab, Neda,Taraneh and countless others
Then you will feel each blow
Each wound, each cut, each curse
For we shall return to see you cringe
To see your eyes widen with fear,
To hear your demented screams

And at that time you will know terror,a greater terror than mine
Then you will remember the dead children
The raped women, the orphans and widows
That is why I go contentedly to my death
Knowing my sacrifice will be remembered,
Knowing Iran’s freedom will come.

For Iran 2009
Land of a thousand whisper
Caressed by the kisses of the sun
Made beautiful by the songs of the past
A glorious past
Now sullied by the shackles of bigotry and fear

How it shatters my soul to hear
The silent voices screaming for freedom
How it strangles my breathing agony into
Pain undefined
To see young womens’ lives stamped out
To listen to the silent wails from forbidding walls

Listen o you who drink at the fountain of freedom
Listen o you who wake up to sweet security
The silent screams of stifled voices
Listen to the voices of mothers
Weeping for dead sons stolen in the night
Lost to the dark embrace of closed minded men.

And the voices calling to us
Echo across the web
The news relays the call
Hear these voices
People across the world
Reach across the void

And lend your voice to the silent screams
To the silent dead, to mothers and fathers
Who call for their child, curse not death
But life itself.
And shout for the cause of the orphaned.
Those who call freedom, father and mother.

Listen and hear
Listen and mourn
The morning is dark and filled with
The thousands of voices
Calling, forever calling
In our sleep and in the hours of waking.

11 July 2009

"Psalms of the Muse" : Selections

Poetry has been a passion of mine since I was very young. My book in preparation called "Psalms of the Muse" will hopefuly be soon ready for publication. Here are a few selections from it.

"Catharsis "
There is darkness that surrounds
when hope fades like an autumn day,
and beaten by the storms of life what else is there
but to raise my eyes upwards and wait
for hope to be reborn,
from the dying kindlings blown upon
by a higher spirit watching silently this battle where the enemy is the self.
I sit pondering on how wasted had become the years,
squandered moments,
squandered kins and friends
But now there is no other way but to renew old
forgotten covenants and to relive again the purity of
life as in the beginning.


Rain falling on the quiet ground
Wind blowing through restless trees
The young man’s life, a new fresh dream
The young bride’s eyes like pools of calm clean water
This man’s life has seen it all

Rain thundering on the writhing ground
Wind tearing through trees,beating on roofs,rising to cresendos of passion and calm.
The young man ‘s life gone in a song
reflected in new eyes
In his wife’s tired embrace;
The days end up the same way,
Like rain after the passion is spent
Lies in the brown muddy consumation of heaven and earth.

I watch new life in a child’s first breath
There comes the call
of life between,
when the tired passions
spent in the endless night
become the endless passions
to live.
So live we shall, with our fears
and our give and take.
Our passion holds us through the
ebb and flow of life.

I listen to the clean clear laughter
reflection of my Child’s hopes and dreams
finding comfort
in our days of love and warmth
of which many more will come.

"Tell Me!"

I have been told of the tales of a people
in strife
Who will tell me of the strivings of a
people ?
This pain
who shall ease it ?
the lines of history upon my eyes
become blurred by the adulation
of the white man who made war on us
with quiet passion.
Leaving this land with a confused legacy
my heart yearns for the innocence of the way
that is gone
I look with hope into the eyes of the new born.
Will they hear this cry
and echo hope ?
Land of the Seven Clans
thrust into this new age
the lingering sun of tomorrow caress our sleeping
And we who awake to our new dawn
eagerly grasp life as it awaits our life breath
to start the long march our elders left long before.
Their paths now long gone.

07 July 2009

Shillong Stories: Loud thinking and Reflections

We live in a tribal society, with clearly defined clans and relationships delineated along a matrilineal system. The society is quite tight knit and the ties and organisation of the clans are based on loyalty, respect and a clan hierarchy. The clan or the ”Kur” is which emanates the identity of the individual. The children belong to the clan of the mother. What is remarkable even if I say so myself is the fact that there are no destitute or beggars in our way of life. Old people are cared for and children are cherished. The maternal uncle still has a big role and while the institution of the “father” in nuclear families is almost similar to Patriarchal systems, the whole strength of the society rests on the clans. We take the clan surnames. Take my name for instance. I belong to the erstwhile ruling family of the Jaintia, “Syiem” is similar to “King” and “Sutnga” is our clan name. There is also a village named Sutnga from where all of the clan and sub clans have emerged.
Women, I am glad to say enjoy a far greater degree of freedom and respect. Most are involved in their own pursuits. But there is also a drawback in the fact that marriages often break up very easily, the burden of raising the children falling on the mother. These are some of the areas which as Vice Chairman of the Meghalaya State law Commission, it is my intention to bring about proper legislation. Law alone however cannot change the mind set and we need social action; especially, if we are to combat the high incidence of alcoholism often resulting in unpalatable incidences of wife beating and other abuses. In recent years, a rise of rape especially of minors has been on the upswing.
Anyway, I did not want this to be about only academic discourse but I would like to record what is passing through the paths of time too. July has always been the month of heavy rains. The paddy has been planted and has taken root. The fields have started becoming green. In a short while in two months time, the fruiting will have begun and the fields will start turning golden yellow waiting for the harvest. In the mean time the rains turn the month into a period of high humidity and heat aptly fitting into its Khasi name “Naitung” or the month of odours. Which I think originated from the time when we were all farmers and the rotting vegetation gave rise to a pervading smell which is still there in the rural areas.
Much of these hills today have turned dark green. This is one positive effect of the Supreme Court of India’s Timber ban in1996. The forests opposite my house on the slopes of Lum Shyllong or Shillong Peak have turned into a dark green testifying to the thickening growth. The bare patches are vanishing. It’s a calming sight.
The curious incident of a young woman enticed over the Internet by a handicapped man in Bangalore is the topic of discussion. The man met her online a few months age, duping her with tall tales. Last week she took Rs 35,000(about $ 700), never returned from college, boarded a plane from Guwahati and left for Bangalore. On reaching there she was immediately bundled off, made to wear a “burkha” and was locked up. Her distraught mother tried her cell phone but a voice answered asking for a R 5 lakh ransom (about $ 10,000), The Meghalaya Police are now on the hunt for her.
The Budget present in Parliament on the 6th June is also on my mind. I’ve been watching the trends. In fact yesterday at around 11.30 AM, I had already made a tweet on Twitter predicting the stock markets would crash; which they did in spectacular fashion falling more than 800 basic points. Apart from the apparently cosmetic gift wrappings of tax reliefs, the spending of the Government is scheduled to go up. India Inc is apparently not happy. In fact the euphoria of the markets after the last general Elections has been rudely overturned by the crash of those expectations in the present Budget. North East does not get anything special except for a few things in the Railway Budget. I will be doing an analysis in the next few days.
My two year old granddaughter, Mia is ecstatic because her mother has returned from hospital. Nathalene, my youngest daughter was hospitalised having been afflicted with severe pancreatitis. She is still weak and I will have to take her out of Shillong for further treatment.
Hope you and your family are alright

05 July 2009


Hi again,
The US Independence Day saw lot of messages on Twitter.It reminded me of my own people and our journey through the travails and joys of existence.As part of the political milieu of India we have a part and a contribution to make. The first being to protect our culture so that we can give to others what is good and worthwhile from ours. this poem below was written quite some time back but I feel that its relevance is still contemporary.

-The New Dawn

Awake to the call
in the break of this darkness before dawn .
dry your eyes,the tears fallen
for a battered mother earth
the tears falling from the eyes of mothers
weeping for fallen sons

Awake to the new hope that yearns to be born
Give in to the warmth of the smiles of new life
Bursting into innocent songs
from the mouth of babies who can hardly speak
‘Ko Khun u Hynniewtrep
Shwa ba ‘meingi kan sep’*

Give your hearts and your hands
to the cause of this motherland
Pray to the new day with reverence and awe
Pray to the heavens that never again will we see
what these past years saw
So that we may live
Strong in our knowledge of good and bad
Firm in our faith
united in our resolve
that ‘Hynniewtrep’ will resound
a monument to our deeds
and a legacy to the clans.
"Hynniewtrep, shwa ba meingi kan sep"
"Hynniewtrep", awake to the new dawn.

Erwin K. Syiem Sutnga
15th June, 2003
*{O Children of Hynniewtrep
Before the sun on us sets}