‘Must We Go?’ is the second poem in Moniza Alvi’s At the Time of Partition, which traces ‘a version of what might have taken place’ during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, based on her family stories. This is an excerpt, but the full poem is available here.


To move house is one thing.
To leave your country another.

But to leave it because it
no longer wishes

to attach itself to you,
doesn’t at all desire

to be the ground under your feet,
to feel compelled to leave it

for one which you had always known
to be a corner of your own,

but has become swiftly and deliriously
another –

and which beckons
as if it had a hand to beckon with,

and which calls you,
as if a country had a single voice.


The cards had been dealt
by a firm, if not a sure hand.


[Read in At the Time of Partition, published by Bloodaxe Books.]