ON ASKING MY MOTHER ABOUT WINTER 1990
Sep 19 ● BY Abhijit Sarmah
On 27th November 1990, President’s rule was imposed in the state of Assam
and Operations Rhino and Bajrang were launched against separatist groups.
Thousands of young men were arrested, hundreds were killed.
We hid the moon in the silent river
so they couldn’t chase the uiis that
lived in the incisions of the last crag,
laughs my mother, they toppled like nests
of baya weavers on the way of Bordoisila
rushing angrily to her mother’s feast.
but, the rest? I ask as sunlight drips down her twiggy legs
and strews its nerves gently on the mosaic porch.
Oh, in dugouts covered with banana-leaves
we girls numbered snails and trembling tendrils of light,
oak whispers and green gooseberries to dip in salt— and
sometimes when their tawny mastiffs came our way tearing
through thick scrims of fog tinctured with slivers of the moon
we ran for our brothers hiding in the forest.
then they saved you? Oh, they were never there.
They always went hunting for finches, floating clods of stars.
Uii: In the Mishing language, witches
Bordoisila: In the Assamese language, a severe cyclonic storm that marks the incoming monsoon season in Assam, India