The Jury and the Assassins

(This brief ghazal is dedicated to Disha Salian and Sushant Singh Rajput who met their gruesome ends in the city of Mumbai, circa 2020.)

Who sutured up these gashes, these wounds, in the shallows of the night?
Bid the guardians of the square to set up the gallows of the night?

There are a thousand shades of hunger in that metropolis of treacheries,
Punters prowl on tiptoes, feast on livers, in the shadows of the night.

When the jury becomes the butchers, the butchers dress up as the jury,
It’s the naked lust of the bestial, brazen bedfellows of the night.

Ravaged and hurled down a tower, unclad and cold in a mortuary,
The liveried fiddlers scrubbed her off like the tallows of the night.

It’s been aeons the half-dead tree has waited for shoots on its skeleton,
Dreaming of what once was a canopy, a verdant mallow of the night.

Uma, do you remember the song of joy as distinct from the mourning?
Ravens rend the boulevard, masquerade as swallows of the night.


  1. Having lived in the ‘grim metropolis of treacheries’, your poetic rendering has the right depth to gauge what happened to these unsuspecting souls. In case legal justice eludes, hope at least some poetic justice comes as a solace to the departed souls.

    1. My dear friend, something very disturbing is afoot in that city that claims its police is as good as ‘Scotland Yard’, but who appear to be hell bent on erasing evidences and flouting all procedures of investigation, and who are obviously worse than the morons of Daesh.

  2. Uma this is a pretty mind-blowing ghazal on this appalling incident. The world is going mad – it is getting impossible for anyone remember the song of joy.

  3. I’m not familiar with the subject of your poem, but it sure shines a light on corruption, greed and violence. I’m so sorry that two lives were lost and am glad you are speaking out. It doesn’t feel like enough, but sometimes it is all we can do. And you do it well.

    1. I am resigned to the fact that ghastly crimes will happen, but the rot among the guardians of crime is unacceptable. And hence, speak we must, even if it is a cry in the wilderness.

  4. A very powerful poem Uma, in which your anger and despair comes through. I didn’t know about the case, but I looked it up and there seem to be so many different stories going on about what happened, it must be hard to get to the truth of it. But you are trying Uma, and there is still joy, if only we can find it.

    1. The fault lines in our society are getting deeper where killers and thugs rule disguised as keepers. It seems enough damage has been done and the entire truth may never come to the fore.

    1. At least Russians don’t pretend to be fair and democratic. It is so much more lethal, this charade of equitable society, this pretence of justice and harmony.

  5. Oh, Uma, I want to say something. But what can one say? The warm encouragement above the comments box is something that always stirs my heart and yet I have nothing to add to your words of rage and sorrow beyond more rage, more sorrow. This darkness and corruption and this suffering of innocent souls cuts deep and extends widely – beyond your shores and mine. I thank you for not turning away from it. I join you in mourning but ask you also, to listen quietly for that song of joy. The music remains for as long as we are able to listen. Take care, my friend.

    1. I understand such monstrosities can happen anywhere, but the frequency of recurrence in this corner of the planet is ghastly.

      Thanks for the reminder, if I strain my ears long enough I can hear the distant singing. I must not let it die.

  6. True justice is rare in the part of the world you and I come from, Uma. The ghastly narrative is tragically repeated over and over again. A sad, well-expressed elegy, passionate poet. May God bless your week. Sonali

    1. For centuries, we have been a subjugated community. Even after we have been freed from bondage, politicians, and the institutions controlled by them, have stepped into the shoes of the subjugators. We are the puppets ruled by men of straw devoid of morality.

  7. Uma, Could you explain the concept of a ghazal? Does it have strict rules of structure.
    As for the corruption of authorities I am sure that it is found everywhere but in any city the more people there the more easily it is for the corrupt to hide. I also apologise for having not commented before. But back to the poem at the top – I am not aware of the circumstances, just let me say that the poem is on a special list that I have of “I wish I had written something like that”.

    1. I am sorry to have missed your comment here. Here is a link that explains a ghazal.

      After you have gone through that, I woul like you to read my favourite Ghazal written by Jeet Thayil:


      “Listen! Someone’s saying a prayer in Malayalam.
      He says there’s no word for ‘despair’ in Malayalam.

      Sometimes at daybreak you sing a Gujarati garba.
      At night you open your hair in Malayalam.

      To understand symmetry, understand Kerala.
      The longest palindrome is there, in Malayalam.

      When you’ve been too long in the rooms of English,
      Open your windows to the fresh air of Malayalam.

      Visitors are welcome in The School of Lost Tongues.
      Someone’s endowed a high chair in Malayalam.

      I greet you my ancestors, O scholars and linguists.
      My father who recites Baudelaire in Malayalam.

      Jeet, such drama with the scraps you know.
      Write a couplet, if you dare, in Malayalam.”

      © 2015, Jeet Thayil
      From: Collected Poems
      Publisher: Aleph Book Company

      1. I would like to try but I am concerned thatI might make a mockery of it. At the moment my series of stories about Anton are on a ghazal theme of love and loss and despair. Maybe I will try. And don’t apologise – I sometimes take an exceeding time to reply to people.

  8. Total insanity. An investigation into a suicide becomes an investigation into drug usage becomes a witch hunt with several central agencies involved. What a desecration of the memory of a young man. Shameless politics and political vendetta. We now have another interesting case brewing in the form of the TRP scandal. Hopefully nobody has died.

Won't you say something, old friend?

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