To the Oppressor

By Aalia Shaikh

His Lost Treasure

(Dedicated to all children who have lost their innocence in conflicts and wars)

He sits on the ground, playing with marbles
They have lost their sheen, like the irises of his eyes
A hollow is seen in their place
Going deep, into his soul
The Hollow is the space where his treasure was
The marbles are soon forgotten
Like a leaf wafting in the autumn air
Looking for his treasure, he goes out in the overcast garden
The skies are over laden with the smoke from copters
Bombs drop frequently
The booms are heard far-off and near
As if in a surreal lacuna
Kaleidoscopic lights emerge from them
And he finds himself in a vast field of snow
So white, so barren, but seeping Red
Graves dot the landscape of his vision
Piercing his sight more than the sun’s rays
An old man passing by
Whispers in his ears
“These are the Elysian Fields my son
take care not to trample on the Martyrs’ bones”
Within those graves is my treasure, old man
Following the withered figure of the old man
He comes upon an Abattoir
Men with muscled, sweating arms
Are hacking his nation’s Flag to shreds
The bin in which the shreds are discarded is where my treasure lies
Slowly moving by the side of a River
He dips his hands in the icy waters
They come out coloured with the blood of women
Deflowered by tyrants
The gushing blood-river soaks the banks of heaven
A fathom below is my treasure, clenched in the screams of women
The blood-river goes on without ebb
And floods the farms of his land
It ferments the crops of Guns and Stones and Despair
Planted in that soil is my treasure
By now, he has lost all hopes of retrieving it
Lost in chaos, plunder, mourning, murder
Walking with the old man
He arrives at the gates of Past
Behind the forbidding doors
He has a glimpse of his treasure
Unreachable, irredeemable, lost for ever.


To the Oppressor

Standing at the edge of the chasm, I stare down at your aggression;
spirals of hate waft to my face and simmer the skin
I anoint it with the balm of Resolution.

In the dark night sky, a star cracks
shards fall like confetti and melt as they touch the ground
My land…. A heated furnace.
Hope rises and deflates.
I replenish it ceaselessly.

The block of space from land to sky;
hushed, concretised in a sordid mass.
No humans dwell in this cuboid –
only throbbing, festering wounds reflect an imitation of life.
You have snatched my being away,
I keep re-asserting it.

Time; for me it is primordially suspended.
Quagmired past
Forsaken present
Uncertain future.
Epochs unaccounted for, hang in mid-air.

But you fail to realise,
the soul you chuted in time is immortal.
Its silence is screaming;

As the child half closes his eyes
afraid of the nightmare that will invade his sleep.
The lashes do not touch his cheeks but hover uncertainly
over a dreaded dream canvas.
Songs of Freedom will be his lullaby
and he will shudder no more.

My soul floating towards the horizon of promise,
is pulled back by anchors of occupation
on the shores of non-being.
I break free – flowing, melting
into the waters of Resistance.

You have cloaked many identities on me.
Your forced moniker.
I peel the layers off my Self
carving my own Identity.
I resist being your image,
you are unlike my self.

Your tools of oppression
will clatter like bones in winter.
The welts on my memory,
rendering new wounds impotent of pain.

The debris of my existence
will Pheonicially rise in its older form.
When the shackles of your presence had not deformed it.

Then you will resemble a mirage,
formed in the summers of torment.
Rains of my Struggle
will wash you away.
Retentions of your rule
will fade into oblivion…

I will be born again.

– Aalia Shaikh is an Indian poet. She contributed these poems to

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