On Seeing Bahadur Shah Zafar
The Last Mughal Emperor
1775 – 1862

ScreenHunter_20 Feb. 27 11.16The king is a subject—
A world

Son of a pig—
A viceroy will take pleasure
In a king exposed

Bolstered on a charpoy
Gaunt in white kurta;
Block-printed pajamas?

Long stem of a hookah—
A humid verandah
A garrison in Rangoon

EScreenHunter_21 Feb. 27 11.16xiled—
O, Delhi,
The Red Fort

Yesterday –seems ages ago–
Court painters painted
His portrait for posterity

Slithers of their brush—
A halo “God’s Shadow”

Cross-legged regalia—
Woven gardens
Blooming beneath his feet

Subjects trembling—
In front of him as they had
In front of his father and his

The garden ravaged—
Zafar, a memory of his splendor
Restraint of his sigh, itself a sigh

Rafiq Kathwari is a Monday poet at 3Quarks Daily.