“Sea Breeze, Bombay” by Adil Jussawalla

Partition’s people stitched
Shrouds from a flag, gentlemen scissored Sind.
An opened people, fraying across the cut
country reknotted themselves on this island.

Surrogate city of banks,
Brokering and bays, refugees’ harbour and port,
Gatherer of ends whose brick beginnings work
Loose like a skin, spotting the coast,

Restore us to fire. New refugees,
Wearing blood-red wool in the worst heat,
come from Tibet, scanning the sea from the north,
Dazed, holes in their cracked feet.

Restore us to fire. Still,
Communities tear and re-form; and still, a breeze,
Cooling our garrulous evenings, investigates nothing,
Ruffles no tempers, uncovers no root,

And settles no one adrift of the mainland’s histories.

A partition poem which is also a Bombay poem. Partition’s people stitched shrouds from a flag ,a reference to the gruesome killings in the wake of the India partition in the name of nationalism and religion.Bombay turned out to be a migrants’ city and a commercial capital ,where communities break and re-form.Still Bombay investigates nothing (We have the example of the several scams and bomb blasts, riots and underworld killings),ruffles no one’s tempers and uncovers no roots.Above all, Bombay settles no one adrift of the mainland’s histories.

5 comments on ““Sea Breeze, Bombay” by Adil Jussawalla

  1. Sea Beach as a partition poem reminds us of K.A Abbas’ The Refugee, Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan, Krishan Chander’s The Peshawar Express seen through the woe and pathos of the people partitioned and barricaded from entries, leaving their all.but in the name of religion and nationalism. Just like whirlwind or a cycle, a tornado or hurricane, they got uprooted and devastated.

    On the one hand the talk of flags and nascent nationalism overtook them, the zealots of independence seeking freedom from while on the other hand the shrouds failed to cover up all. Sind was scissored, Punjab was partitioned, Bengal was, resulting in the influx of the refugees, braving the odds, going on the ways, meeting their ends, dying on the paths, the shelterless people, the refugees.

    Many of them went to Delhi, many to Calcutta, many found shelter and refuge in Bombay, the island city of commercial hub and navigation, with a history of its own in attracting people from all over the world through the corridor of history. The harbours, posts and ships will tell the unsaid story themselves how is it busy with bristling activity.

    Again the same fate met the Tibetans coming as refugees to settle in Bombay and Dharamshala, H.P. In a different clime and situation, found they placed unaware of the seasons and the clothes needed for.

    Fire which is so sacrosanct purges it all. Let the communities re-knot their ties and strike the roots forgetting their past as Bombay has always welcomed the distraught people, the shipwrecked forlorn brothers.
    The sea breeze keeps ruffling it all in a fresh way.

  2. Vijay S says:

    please post the detailed summary of the poem

  3. The nice brief explanation of poem.

  4. Sea Breeze by Adil Jussawalla is a Bombay poem written by none but a Bombay man who knows at least the rhythm and pace of living, tracing the history of the island which has given shelter and refuge to it all who came seeking for. It is not what it was in the past, what it had been in the past it is now not, has changed over the years. An island dislocated and disconnected, lying separated geographically was filled and joined to give it the look of a commercial hub rather than a dockyard of maritime activity.
    Sea Breeze as a poem is a poem of pain and partition; the woes of partition which but the barricaded people can say it most dwelling within the walled borders or boundaries as did feel the Parsis themselves first when driven from Persia or persecuted to be diasporans. The people of South Korea and North Korea can still feel it.People living the communist regimes too may experience such a thing, but the frenzy of the fanatics the poet has not which he might have during the partition of India.
    Against the backdrop of partition, its trauma and pathos, bewilderment and loss, the poet opines about all that bizarre and awkward has happened, occurred in the name of religion and politics, blind faith and the lust for power which the common people could not. Having crossed over to, they could not get what they had hoped to and Bombay is one such city which accommodated many of them as did Delhi with the camp areas.

  5. nisheedhi says:

    Nice comment, Dubeyji. Thanks.

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