First we are born to man and wife,
Then they give us our names,
Those names then our prison make
Of inflexible religious frames.
But I that a ‘Hindu’ am
Might well have a ‘Muslim’ been,
Had the sperm and egg that wrought me
Come from an Aslam and Nasreen.
What sense that we should thus invest
Our lifelong loves and hates
To an instant we had no inkling of,
And consign to that our fates.
If then we remain a dumb zygote
Through all our waking life,
What use a heart, a brain, a tongue,
What use our sentient strife?
Must we in loyalty embrace
What darkness made of us?
Or should our selfhood discriminate
A ‘maybe’, a ‘no’, a ‘yes’?
Is it our name that renders us
At all times wrong or right?
Or should ‘human’ mean that we create
Some self-made luminous light
Beyond what thoughtless body heat
And the accident of birth
Confer upon us unbeknown—
Mere creatures of the earth?
Those that gave us holy books
Remade what went before;
Would they have wanted generations
To rest frozen in their lore?