Guest post by NAJEEB MUBARKI
I could have met Sebald.
I went to Britain in September 2001,
And he died in December.
East Anglia wasn’t all that far way
From London, nothing, really,
Is all that far away in Britain.
I could have met him, if I had known him
What I would have wanted to say, I think
Is that I love him.
Because he eased my suffering, which is
What love is all about, if it is
Love at all.
So, of a fashion, I would have said,
I love him, and that’s also because he
Taught me how to try
And describe somethings.
Such as when, on that strange day
If I remember, we were wearing pherans
So it must have been cold, perhaps grey,
The street was empty, and my memory begins
With that empty street, almost as if it is cinema
And that is the first take.
From an acute angle from the window
We saw the truck
No one told us, father, mother and i
That there was a truck there,
It was as if we were, as I said,
In the first scene.
What I remember, I would have told Sebald,
That the truck seemed to be waiting, for
Collectors to accept a delivery
From the window, first father and then I saw the truck
Standing near the edge of Ikhrajpora
And the careless muddle of arms and legs
I do not remember, I would have said,
If there was any blood.
But father said ya rasoolalah
And turned and went down the stairs
Mother, I think, as I followed him, was pleading
For us not to go out.
My memory is forgetful, I would have told Sebald,
Perhaps with a weak smile,
And I don’t remember what happened next.
Did I watch as the people streamed
Were they screaming or were there slogans
Or were they saying anything at all
As they took down the bodies, made dead
What I do remember, however,
Is the funeral of kachur, and that is all that I knew
Of him, a name and sight, in Ikhrajpora.
There seemed, I would have said, to be a noise
Or was it a roar
I remember being quiet, I would have said
Aware that father was weeping, in his light-brown pheran
Standing next to me
As we watched kachur’s father, and it must have been
Patiently, very carefully, put back
The dislodged piece of his skull
What I do remember, clearly,
Was my feet
In the slush, wearing my rubber sandals
Turning stone cold.
And why I came here, to East Anglia, to meet him, I would have
Is that he made me understand
That it is all right
To remember imprecisely.