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On the Return to a Foreign Land by Ashwani Sharma



For Mum


Now I become death, the destroyers of worlds.

Bhagavad Gita


The ashes rattled in the boot, the dust scattering

the receding dawn light, back in the mother

country lost in its mythos. A journey

to the source, a return to nothingness. The road

cutting a cold industrial landscape, arid horizon

populated by waking souls, indifference to the

vehicle hurtling to the sacred waters of the Ganga, air

reeking of the waste of human existence.


Death in the atmosphere orange shirts stealing a march,

hate everywhere. Mortal gods on screens selling the

future, dancing flesh whiter than white, goondas

rampaging, thugs searching for purity raping

as tradition reigns. Bharat rising speculating

on fear, Modi empire reloaded, emergency nation-time

open for business, follow the Brahmins to the

camps, holy men in Triumph of the Will.


Sounds of her last breaths reverberating in my head

my eyes red through the morning haze. Mum smiling,

speaking of another country. Brum back in the

day airmail to the Delhi folks. Bygone pasts

India left shining to another beat of utopia

lost. From the impossible life, burning

coal in the grey skies of the engine of imperial

decline. Dreams of escape to the black country.


Red sky at night people struggling. Mao in the

jungle class war Lal Salaam another Naxalbari

imagined. Let the poets run riot, words can

kill the twilight of hope. Dust storms gathering

across time haunted by the failures of history.


England’s dreaming again. Time to go, forget the gods

No sacred cows, only polluted rivers, temples to the rich.

Wretched of the earth losing their mind, daughters

of the dust speaking for (an)other world, sounding

out rupturing the flows of empire at the end

of our world, the world mum.






Ashwani Sharma is Course Leader for the BA Film and Screen Studies at LCC. He is the founding co-editor of darkmatter journal (darkmatter101.org) and is completing a book of essays on race, time and visual culture. He is working on a poetry collection -  tabula rasa.

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