A Different History by Sujata Bhatt


Great Pan is not dead;

he simply emigrated

           to India.

Here the gods roam freely,

disguised as snakes or monkeys;

every tree is sacred

and it is a sin

to be rude to a book.

It is a sin to shove a book aside

                      with your foot,

a sin to slam books down

            hard on the table

a sin to toss one carelessly

           across a room.

You must learn how to turn the pages gently

without disturbing Sarasvati,

without offending the tree

from whose wood the paper was made.

           Which language

            has not been the oppressor’s tongue?

           Which language

truly meant to murder someone?

And how does it happen

that after the torture,

after the soul has been cropped

with a long scythe swooping out

of the conqueror’s face-

the unborn grandchildren

grow to love that strange language.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s