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Mar 18, 2017

Sea Breeze, Bombay: Adil Jussawalla

By: Bijay Kant Dubey

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.
Sea Breeze, Bombay is one of those poems of Adil Jussawalla, the writer of Land’s End and Missing Person which can really take us by strike and woe as for the island imagery in the backdrop of the sea surging and the Partition scenario and the aftermath of it and can be reckoned together with Approaching Santa Cruz Airport, Bombay. To read the poem is to be remembered of J.M.Synge’s Riders to the Sea, W.H.Auden’s Look, Stranger!, Dylan Thomas’ Poem in October, John Masefield’s Sea Fever, Arnold’s Dover Beach and Wordsworth’s Upon The Westminster Bridge.

'Sea Breeze, Bombay' is a poem of Bombay telling about the Bombayan men and populace by a Bombay man, what was it in the beginning, how does it look together with in the wake of the camps of the refugees put up. A Bombay, metropolitan, cosmopolitan and almost a commercial hub which it has turned into ultimately, giving refuge and shelter to all, is the picture; the tragic partition of the sub-continent and the bloody aftermath of it shook it all what it was good in humanity and we could not think if men could be monsters. There had been refugees Punjab and its frontiers and adjoining areas. Now the refugees from Tibet too have found a shelter in. 
A poem of Bombay and its cosmopolitanism, Sea Breeze, Bombay is a city poem, telling about the capital which has shelter and refuge to all. The torn and separated people have found time to stitch their tales and redress their wounds.

A poem of five parts or call it break-ups, it has the movement of its own, as the narrative takes the stand. A Partition poem, it is about the Partition People seen in the stories of Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, The Refugee by K.A.Abbas and The Peshawar Express by Krishan Chunder.

Sea Breeze, Bombay is a poem of the tragically dislocated and displaced people which is but the blunder of history which the time will never forgive it. For no fault of them, they suffer as for our political errors and misinterpretations. Against the backdrop of the sea breeze refreshing it always, the city of Bombay pulsates in its own way, giving calm and shelter to all, maybe they the Partition people, as wrecked and distraught humanity finds solace it here, stitching and patching the tales anew.

Sea Breeze, Bombay 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 a whirlwind or a cyclone, 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. The flags served as the shrouds for those in need. 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.

In Sea Breeze, Bombay, the poet also sees it himself, trying to locate and re-locate historically, genealogically. What the history of it where he is now. How was it Bombay it the beginning? What has it turned into? The communities may cross swords, but it retains the same accommodative spirit down the ages. The Sindhis, the Parsis, the Jews, the Christians, the Tibetans, the navigators, shipmen, mariners, it is a city of all those who come to live in here. The coasts and harbours of it have always alluded the foreigners; the beaches of it as the tourist spots. Instead of the scars and wounds of the Partition, the people try to stitch their histories and relationships to rebuild it. 


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