Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A War Poem

I wrote this poem  a few years ago when India and Pakistan were once again itching to go  for another war, post Kargil. I hope it will interest the readers. 


Honestly, do we need a war
To court a man-made death?
There’re so many ways to die
Without going to war!

No, I’m not talking
Of the classy developed-world inventions:
Heart failures, cancers, air crashes
Though we have these too.
Not of the less fancied but equally deadly ones;
Malaria, Tuberculosis, AIDS …
Though we have these too.
Not even of Nature’s periodic visitations:
Floods, earthquakes, cyclones
Though we have these too.

No. I’m talking
Of our own Swadeshi innovations.

There’s the death by fire:
In which your body will melt like plastic
In a kitchen
In a jhuggi cluster
In a fireworks factory
In a cinema hall
In a marriage pandal.

Then, there’s the death on the road:
Your bus can descend into a gorge
Like a surface-to-surface missile, and explode.
It can hurtle on the highway and ram into another
Head on for maximum impact.
It can mow you down like a three-ton lawn mower
While you’re sleeping, waiting or walking on the pavement.

You can die on the rail:
Your train may derail and nosedive from a bridge
To become a spectacular heap of twisted metal and men.
It may telescope into another
To leave as many wounded and dead
As in the month-long Kargil bloodshed.

You can die by water:
Your rescue boat may capsize midstream.

You can die in high spirits
By drinking hooch.

You can die feasting
On infected food.

You can die in a hospital
Of a fake drug or of sheer neglect.

You can die
In a police station
Of mere interrogation.

And you can die for so many causes:
You can be stabbed or hacked
In the name of your caste.
You can be shot through
In the name of your class.
You can be blown into shreds
In the name of your state.
You can be roasted alive
In the name of your faith.
In short, you can achieve martyrization
In the name of any hallucination.

Oh dear,
When there’re so many ways to die here
And everyday
In peaceful times
Do we really need a war?
Do we really need a holocaust?