Sunday, April 1, 2018




The chalk marks of the seven year old remain
In funereal hues, highlighting the spot
where the small figure lay face down;
A month has passed, since she screamed in pain
Ravaged; savaged by a civilized society- so called.
The trees sing a dirge, absolutely still
Sending a chill up our spines.
How can we purge
ourselves of this guilt?

The birds dumbfounded, hide in the trees
Choking on those   juvenile notes,
lost somewhere in the wilderness.
‘Murder most foul’, shrieks the air.
A deed so cruel, so unfair!
Despair fills the dead child’s home.
The leaves droop
as Hope troops out
shoulders stooped.
In the sky, a morose rainbow evanesces into nothingness.


Straining my eyes hard, I try to pierce the cellar- like gloom.
Throat painfully dry, and lips parched; dismal is my room.
Did I see some lights? Did I?
Would our boat be able to slip through the rocks
without getting wedged in them?
Glassy cold eyes stare; glare hard.
Everyone cowering and crouching in dread.
Like scalded cats, scuttling around.
What is that sound?  A death rattle?  Or the rumbling of cattle?
An awful suspense follows. No cease fire in this insane battle?
Why does that man look like a bull,
knocked on the head with a hammer?
“Wha…a..t is wrong? ”, I stammer.
“Oh, the same thing ;  he just lost a child.”
All of us duck, clutching each other
as though dodging a pebble
trying to graze our skulls.
Hush, there is a low treble.
Seconds seem agonizing hours. Hours follow hours.
Where are the stars?
An ice cold needle plunges into my spine,
a masked man lunges towards me, and darkness follows.
Dismal and dreary.


Ah, morning sings outside my room.
My ears prick up; my mind’s eye shows me
picturesque banks, soaring swallows, warbling larks,
and serenely grazing cattle.
But why the death rattle?

A merry echo in the woods
every leaf palpitating for sheer joy.
Oh boy! The river is a mirror of flaming sunshine.
The leaves whisper- tattle – tittle, tittle- tattle
But why the death rattle?

Ah, I see a hunched five year old
Eye wide, cowering in fear,
body twitching  , jerking in spasms
Eyes fixed on a tiny blue shroud,
wondering why  his two month old brother sleeps inside  .
His eyes refuse to leave the shroud.
The crowd glances in the direction, as though
in a somnambulistic trance;
lo and behold!
There is a noise loud
Boom Boom Boooooom!
Nature shudders at this collective murder.
The shelling goes on.

Holding a nebulizer to its mouth and nose,
humanity struggles for breath.
Death waits in the shadows, smirking.
The fire does not cease, only increases
every moment.

A little distance away,
a mother tightly clasps her child to her breast,
who bursts into untroubled   chortles.
She sweeps the rubble of last night’s shelling.
Bottles the rancid grief in her bruised tins.
Wipes her tears, swipes away the anguish,
gets on with the business of surviving
[or, maybe dying another day].
The mongrel outside her makeshift lodging
whelps with a proprietorial air
Its barks merging with the sounds of shelling.

The sun is up and about; it is morning finally.
There is something all golden, in the reflected sunbeams
ah, an insect caught in a web.
The nightmare continues.


Dr SANTOSH BAKAYA , academician- essayist - novelist - poet , is the internationally acclaimed writer of BALLAD OF BAPU, a poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi , the first of its kind in the world . Winner of the International Reuel Award for writing and literature [2014]  for her long poem Oh Hark !, Universal Inspirational Poet Award  , [Pentasi B friendship poetry and Ghana Government  2016 ]; Poet Laureate Award  [ Poetry Society of India , 2017] Bharat Nirman Award for literary excellence [ 2017 ] Her  other books  are WHERE ARE THE LILACS  ? UNDER THE APPLE BOUGHS AND FLIGHTS FROM MY TERRACE . She recently  delivered a TED TALK  on the MYTH OF WRITERS' BLOCK .

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