When Afzal refused to talk about violence
There was a hushed murmur of confusion,
A re-checking of notes.
Who is to play the other now?
An idea was expected to appear
Instead, here was a man, human.
Who is to play saviour now?
There is no meek, no blind, no leper
Just a man, with white beard and hair
Steady as the spotlight shining on him.
His eyes pierced into an audience
Waiting to salt the wine and cheese
With horror stories, full of pain and loss
And darkness and stench
Dry and dusty and burning
Each word he wrote, like branding iron,
Burned into his skin.
After all, he is a Muslim,
An Indian-Bangladeshi-Pakistani,
Exiled from two countries,
A child of two wars, and,
He writes poetry.
Instead, he recited a beautiful poem
Of love, of a man in love
Goethe and Rilke were not there to nod
Only a world that expects him
To talk about violence.