Art & poem (c) satisshroff 2009
Their regimental motto is: ‘It is better to die than to live a coward.’ On Tuesday, the legendary courage and bravery of Britain’s Gurkha soldiers was rewarded with a landmark legal ruling that allows the former fighters to settle in Britain.
‘The long military service of these men, their wounds sustained in battle, their conspicuous acts of bravery, their acts of gallantry and their commitment and loyalty to the Crown all point to an unquestionable historic ‘moral debt of honour’ and gratitude,’ the High Court ruling said.
It overturned a government decision taken in 2004 which said that Gurkhas who retired before July, 1997, were not automatically entitled to British settlement rights as their base was then in Hong Kong, and only moved to Britain after the handover of Hong Kong to China.
‘Today we have seen a tremendous and historic victory for the gallant Gurkha veterans of Nepal. This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty’s armed forces,’ the group’s lawyer said Tuesday.
‘It is a victory for common sense; a victory for fairness; and a victory for the British sense of what is ‘right’.’
The retired Gurkhas who brought the test case represented approximately 2,000 others who were refused entry to Britain because the government said they had failed to demonstrate ‘strong ties’ to Britain.
‘Today is a wonderful, terrific victory day for the Gurkhas from Nepal who asked for nothing more from this country than the unfettered right to live amongst the British people – a people they have protected and loved throughout years of long and loyal service,’ said their solicitor.
There were emotional scenes outside the court in London as the heavily bemedalled Gurkha veterans, some in wheelchairs, emerged from the building to celebrate their victory to the cheers of supporters and the skirl of pipe music.
The Gurkhas, who take their name from the hill town of Gorkha, the birthplace of the Nepalese kingdom, have fought on behalf of Britain since the end of the two-year Gurkha War in 1816.
Since then, almost 50,000 Gurkhas have died in action and 150,000 have been seriously injured in conflicts, ranging from World War I to Afghanistan today.
Gurkha troops served as mercenaries under contract to the East India Company in the Pindaree War of 1817, in Bharatpur in 1826 and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1846 and 1848.
They fought on the side of the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and became a formal part of the British-Indian Army on its formation the following year.
Four of the 10 Gurkha regiments entered the British Army after India was granted independence in 1947, becoming a fully-integrated regiment.
About 100,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War I. During World War II, Japanese soldiers described them as their most dreaded foes. Gurkhas still carry the kukri knife, a traditional part of their armour.
But in recent years, disputes over repatriation rights and pensions have marred the special relationship.
‘At last we can begin to put this great wrong right,’ said British TV film and stage actress Joanna Lumley, who has campaigned on behalf of the Ghurka soldiers.
Lyrik: A GURKHA MOTHER (Satis Shroff)
(Death of a Precious Jewel)
The gurkha with a khukri
But no enemy
Works for the United Nations
And yet gets shot at
In missions he doesn’t comprehend.
Order is hukum,
Hukum is life
Johnny Gurkha still dies
Under foreign skies.
He never asks why
Politics isn’t his style
He’s fought against all and sundry:
Turks, Tibetans, Italians and Indians
Germans, Japanese, Chinese
Argentineans and Vietnamese.
Indonesians and Iraqis.
Loyalty to the utmost
Never fearing a loss.
The loss of a mother’s son
From the mountains of Nepal.
Her grandpa died in Burma
For the glory of the British.
Her husband in Mesopotemia
She knows not against whom
No one did tell her.
Her brother fell in France,
Against the Teutonic hordes.
She prays to Shiva of the Snows for peace
And her son’s safety.
Her joy and her hope
Farming on a terraced slope.
A son who helped wipe her tears
And ease the pain in her mother’s heart.
A frugal mother who lives by the seasons
And peers down to the valleys
Year in and year out
In expectation of her soldier son.
A smart Gurkha is underway
Heard from across the hill with a shout
‘It’s an officer from his brigade.
A letter with a seal and a poker-face
“Your son died on duty,” he says,
“Keeping peace for the Queen of England
And the United Kingdom.”
A world crumbles down
The Nepalese mother cannot utter a word
Gone is her son,
Her precious jewel.
Her only insurance and sunshine
In the craggy hills of Nepal.
And with him her dreams
A spartan life that kills.
gurkha: soldier from Nepal
khukri: curved knife used in hand-to-hand combat
shiva: a god in Hinduism
Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter (Satis Shroff)
Mit einem gefährlichen Khukuri
Aber kein Feind in Sicht,
Arbeitet für die Königin von England,
Und wird erschossen
Die er nicht begreift.
Befehl ist Hukum,
Hukum ist sein Leben
Johnny Gurkha stirbt noch
Unter fremdem Himmel.
Er fragt nie warum
Die Politik ist nicht seine Stärke.
Er hat gegen alle gekämpft:
Türken, Tibeter, Italiener, und Inder
Deutsche, Japaner, Chinesen,
Vietnamesen und Argentinier.
Loyal bis ans Ende,
Er trauert keinem Verlust nach.
Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter,
Von den Bergen Nepals.
Ihr Großvater starb in Birmas Dschungel
Für die glorreichen Engländer.
Ihr Mann fiel in Mesopotamien,
Sie weiß nicht gegen wen,
Keiner hat es ihr gesagt.
Ihr Bruder ist in Frankreich gefallen,
Gegen die teutonische Reichsarmee.
Sie betet Shiva von den Schneegipfeln an
Für Frieden auf Erden, und ihres Sohnes Wohlbefinden.
Ihr einzige Freude, ihre letzte Hoffnung,
Während sie den Terrassenacker
Auf einem schroffen Hang bestellt.
Ein Sohn, der ihr half,
Ihre Tränen zu wischen
Und den Schmerz in ihrem mütterlichen Herz
Eine arme Mutter, die mit den Jahreszeiten lebt,
Jahr ein und Jahr aus, hinunter in die Täler schaut
Mit Sehnsucht auf ihren Soldatensohn.
Ein Gurkha ist endlich unterwegs
Man hört es über den Bergen mit einem Geschrei.
Es ist ein Offizier von seiner Brigade.
Ein Brief mit Siegel und ein Pokergesicht
„Ihren Sohn starb im Dienst,“
sagt er lakonisch:
„Er kämpfte für die Königin von England
Und für den Vereinigten Königreich.“
Eine Welt bricht zusammen
Und kommt zu einem Ende.
Ein Kloß im Hals der Nepali Mutter.
Nicht ein Wort kann sie herausbringen.
Weg ist ihr Sohn, ihr kostbares Juwel.
Ihr einzige Versicherung und ihr Sonnenschein.
In den unfruchtbaren, kargen Bergen,
Und mit ihm ihre Träume
Ein spartanisches Leben,
Das den Tod bringt.
* * *
German Academic Prize Winner Satis Shroff teaches Creative Writing at the elite Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg. The author and lecturer lives in Freiburg and writes about themes like longing, love, the agony of war, the discrimination against Gurkhas, togetherness, dignity of humans, tolerance and one-world in his poems, articles and books.
Dozent, Dichter, Writer, Journalist
Writing Experience, Publications
About the Author
Satis Shroff is a prolific writer and teaches Creative Writing at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. He is a lecturer, poet and writer and the published author of three books: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelogue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. He is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.
Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.
* * *
Satis Shroff writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Associate Professor in Creative Writing MFA, University of Iowa).
‘Satis Shroff writes political poetry, about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. I writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing thus is also a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry.’ (Sandra Sigel, Writer, Germany).
Due to his very pleasant personality and in-depth experience in both South Asian, as well as Western workstyles and living, Satis Shroff brings with him a cultural sensitivity that is refined. His writings have always reflected the positive attributes of optimism, tolerance, and a need to explain and to describe without looking down on either his subject or his reader. (Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Southasia, Kathmandu)
Veranstaltungen im Sommer Semester 2009
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