“Ayo Gurkhali!” “
Here come the Gurkhas!”
This was the battle-cry
that filled the British heart,
with pride and admiration,
and put the foe in fear.
Now the Gurkhas are not upon you.
They are with you, among you, in London,
Guarding the Queen at the Palace,
Doing security checks for VIPs
and for Claudia Schiffer, the Sultan of Brunei.
Johnny Gurkhas, or as the Brits prefer: Johnny Gurks.
Sir Ralph Turner, an adjutant of the Gurkhas in World War I said:
'Uncomplaining you endure, hunger, thirst and wounds; and at the last,
your unwavering lines disappear into smoke and wrath of battle.'
Another General Sir Francis Tuker, spoke of the Gurkhas:
“Selfless devotion to the British cause, which can be hardly matched
by any race to another in the whole history of the world.
Why they should have thus treated us, is something of a mystery.”
9000 Gurkhas died, for the Glory of England,
23,655 were severely wounded or injured.
Military glory for the Gurkhas: 2734 decorations,
Mentions in despatches,
Nepal's mothers paid dearly for England's glory.
And what do I hear? The vast silence of the Gurkhas.
England has failed miserably to match the
Gurkha's loyalty and affection for the British.
Faith binds humans
The Brits have faith in the bravery and loyalty,
Honesty, sturdiness, steadfastness of the Gurkhas.
Do the souls of the perished Gurkhas have faith in the British?
Souls of Gurkhas dead and gone still linger seeking justice
At the hands of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II,
Warlords, or was it war ladies? They died for.
How has the loyalty and special relations
been rewarded in England
Since the Treaty of Segauli
on March 4, 1816?
A treaty that gave the British
the right to recruit Nepalese.
When it came to her own kind,
Her Majesty the Queen
She lavishly bestowed lands,
Lordships and knighthoods
to those who served the crown well,
and added more feathers to England's fame.
A Bombay-born Salman Rushdie
gets a knighthood from the Queen,
for his Satanic and other verses.
So do Brits who play classic and pop.
When it comes to the non-British,
Alas, Her majesty feigns myopia.
She sees not the 200 years
On the part of the Gurkhas:
In the trenches of Europe,
The jungles of Borneo,
in far away Falklands,
And war-torn Iraq.
Blood, sweat and tears,
Eking out a meagre existence
in the craggy hills of Nepal
The price of glory was high,
fighting in the killing-fields
Of Delhi, the Black Mountains,
Khyber Pass, Gilgit, Ali Masjid.
Warring against Wazirs, Masuds,
Yusafzais and Orakzais
in the North-West Frontier.
And against the Abors,
Nagas and Lushais
in the North-East Frontier.
Neuve Chapelle in France,
A hill named Q in Gallipoli.
Suez and Mesopotamia.
In the Second World War
Battling for Britain
In North Africa, South-East Asia,
Italy and the Retreat from Burma.
The Queen graciously passes the ball
and proclaims from Buckingham Palace:
'The Gurkha issue
is a matter for the ruling government.'
Thus prime ministers come and go,
Akin to the fickle English weather.
The resolute Queen remains,
The Goddess Mother of the Earth,
above the clouds in her pristine glory,
But the Gurkha issue prevails.
'Draw up a date
to give the Gurkhas their due,'
Is the order from 10 Downing Street.
we can't pay for the 200 years.
We'll be ruined as a ruling party,
when we do that.'
A sentence like a guillotine,
Is the injustice done to the Gurkhas
Of service to the British public?
It's like adding insult
Thus Tory and Labour governments have come
The Gurkha injustice has remained
To this day.
All Englishmen cannot be gentlemen,
but in this case even fellow officers.2
Colonel Ellis and General Sir Francis Tuker,
The former a downright bureaucrat,
the latter with a big heart.
England got everything
Out of the Gurkha.
Squeezed him like a lemon,
Discarded and banned
from entering London
and its frontiers,
When he developed gerontological problems.
'Go home with your pension
but don't come back.
We hire young Gurkhas
Our NHS doesn't support pensioned invalids.'
Johnny Gurkha wonders aloud:
'Why they should have thus
and are still treating us,
is a mystery.'
Meanwhile, life in the terraced hills of Nepal,
Where fathers toil on the stubborn soil,
And children work in the steep fields
A broken, wrinkled old mother waits,
For a meagre pension
From Her majesty's far off Government,
Across the Kala Pani,
The Black Waters.
Faith builds a bridge
Between Johnny Gurkhas
And British Tommies,
Between Nepal and Britain.
The sturdy, betrayed Gurkha puts on
a cheerful countenance,
'Resam firiri, resam firiri, resam firiri,'
an old trail song
Heard in the Himalaya