Al-Azhar Lecture

Poem By Keki Daruwalla

They are naïve, those who suggest
that the fortunes of the ruler
and the ruled go hand in hand.
Take the plague of 1350,
which traveled like a caravan
from China across the Pamirs
to the caravanserai called Egypt;
rested here, refilled its water-skins
and moved on to Europe.
Twenty thousand died each day in Cairo,
Mamluk, Emir and fellahin.
But while the people sprouted buboes
and the cattle broke out in blains
and the Nile was scaled with
dead shoals of silver-bellied fish,
the Sultan got richer.
When everyone dies
who succeeds to property
but the Sultan who embodies the state?
Jazziya was another money spinner
And the plague must have spared
The non-Muslim - it often does.
Can we blame the State Treasurer
If, as he prayed, he asked Allah
for more plagues and more unbelievers?

[From: The Map-maker]

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but before corn in the ear there was life.

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ask any drought,
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ask the year 1947.

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