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"... brevity is the soul of wit ..."
- William Shakespeare


Shamik Banerjee is a poet from India. His poems are forthcoming in The Hypertexts, Lighten Up Online, Westward Quarterly and Disturb The Universe.

Shamik Banerjee

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A Lesson From Zaheer, Our Fishmonger

All things are measurable, son: the food
You have, the sprawling mains, for man has power
Over the world; He deems what's bad or good;
Determines if a plant should wilt or flower.
But ordeals measure us—we take the test
Of mercy when affliction's cavalry
Threatens to loot the kindness off one's chest
As in the massacre of '83,
When every lane had reeked of Muslim blood,
My Abba Jaan had fallen to the sword
Held by your neighbours; trembling on the mud,
He mumbled, "What's my sin? My faith? O' Lord,
Don't charge them for their deeds." Love was his wish
That lives through me, for I still feed them fish.

About this Sonnet: The incident described by our fishmonger is the Nelli Massacre, which took place in
central Assam (an Indian state) during a six-hour period on February 18, 1983. The massacre claimed the
lives of 1,600-2,000 people. The victims were all Muslims.

Word Meaning: Abba Jaan: Affectionate term for one's 'father' (used by Muslims)