Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mortuary Blues

Through her soul
Are few uneasy thoughts.
A blob in her throat,
Her voice choked,
She stretches her hand,
As if a magic wand
Will bring it all back,
The unfurled glory,
The murdered dreams,
Her son that lay, perhaps, dead
(She doesn’t even know it!)
Amidst the decomposed heap,
She stretches her hand
To reach out for what,
I don’t know.

She may be a Muslim
Or a Hindu, who cares
In this urban milieu.
Haven’t we all died
In our own mother’s eyes
So many times, whenever she wished
For a son or a daughter
To hold her if she falters.
But we all had our reasons,
Perfectly justified reasons.
It’s no different here,
She only looks for a son
Who is not there.

She wades through
Broken dreams,
Dreams that have
Macabre faces now.
She stumbles,
Gets up, only to stare
At a charred face.
Maybe he’s her son,
Maybe he’s not.
She lost her reason
Long before she lost her son.

I stand quietly
With a list in my hand
I don’t know who’s who
All I have here are few names.
A stink greets us
My soul silently pleads
Silently pleads to her
To quickly confirm
That this room
Does not have her son.

I am just a municipal clerk,
Doing an honest work,
Diligently counting the dead
To earn my humble bread.
Arrey…this is just a mortuary!
I’ve seen worst crimes
Just at a spin of a coin.
The crime where one kills
One’s own conscience.
In this age of karseva and jehad
I wonder whether people ever heard of a word called ittehad.

She straightens up, sighs
Looks at me with moist eyes.
Her face though sad
Is at peace. She says,
Does it matter? Does it matter that this room has her son?
Even if this room had her son,
It means nothing.
I quickly extend my hand
Expecting her to grease my palm.
See I’ve been kind enough
To let you in, and
To let you search for your son.
She replies despondently
They took it all away in the riot.
I shrug my shoulders,
Ok! For once I shall be magnanimous.

©Murtaza Danish Husain
August 26, 2002

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