Sunday, 15 August 2021

Tasnima Yasmin, Poetry 2021 Shortlist

NOTE: This poem is written from the perspective of a newly married girl who has been married to a boy from a village by the India-Pakistan border. It reflects how she is left aghast to find out that her husband has mistakenly crossed what is supposedly laid down as a line of control from where there is no return. The poem is about her trepidations and is based on many such incidents that actually took place during the Kargil war where families were separated and couples had to file for divorce remotely due to overnight changes in territorial borders. The intention is to bring out the emotional turmoil that residents of border areas and the fears they live with.


LOC

Unperturbed by the cool breeze,

The trees swayed to the drum beats,

Playmates to soulmates was a swift journey,

So, I assumed everything else in life would be.


I was the butterfly of Hundermaan,

He, an enthusiastic elf,

Together we tumbled and trotted the valley,

Basking in the joy of discovering anew,

Sights, sounds, smells and ourselves.


We grew into each other,

Two souls of a single essence,

Into a bond of inseparability,

As we inscribed tree after tree,

Fatma-Ali.


He batted his long lashes,

After a tiresome day at work,

Bringing me flowers that evening,

I made a decent meal,

As we huddled together,

With dreamy eyes,

By the bonfire.

Calm before the storm,

Misread as serenity.


Before we even knew it,

We were running for our lives,

We ran into daylight,

Past locales familiar,

Running into acquaintances,

Curious and disturbed,

A clueless dash.


We ran past the woods,

Where thorns ripped the sides of my pheran,

As I struggled to match pace,

We ran with no destination,

Running away from some invisible spirit,

Till my head reeled in circles.


We ran and we ran,

Till I could endure no more,

Reverberating howls knocked me down,

As I panted like a deer being chased,

I turned around to face the chaos,

Of numbing howls, silent shrieks,

The sky fell on my head,

The ground cracked beneath my feet,

I turned to face a sight so grave,

It felt like being buried alive,

His whimpers deafened my heart,

Arrested and detained he stood on his knees.


He gaped at me blankly,

His lips trembled, his arms tied,

Into old territory claimed afresh,

Interrogated at a baton’s end,

Of wanting to live in his land, his home,

I could find no voice, no words, no excuse,

As he struggled to prove his innocence.


Will Ali or won’t Ali?

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