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  • kewal sethi

the disaster that was

the disaster that was

it was august of nineteen forty seven

the leaders promised a new bright heaven

india gained its independence from britain

but not without cost, it was unfortunate

dilli celebrated its date with destiny that night

but those in given up areas were in for fright

riots there were the order of the day

violence had become the normal way

held every one scared by the strife

feared for their honour and their lives

whole villages were burnt, residents butchered

women were abducted, raped and tortured

no one was safe, neither wives nor daughters

the men folk were all in for the slaughter

no trace was left of families galore.

but the rioters promised still more

defenceless, weapon less, they could only wait

whether the frenzy will someday abate

it never did, each day one could feel was worse

huddled together in makeshift places like herds

sheltered in camps, protected by a few military men

attack will come, question was not whether but when

enough has been written about it and forgotten

tragedy for some is just news for the distant ones

let us leave the general scene and repair to our own

describe our pathetic condition we have known

we in quetta had our day in the country new

sweets were distributed, we had our char laddoo

told no need to worry, we were all friends

alas, in three days friendship came to an end,

eighteenth august night was a night to remember

we looked forward to nice food and a good slumber

mobs roamed the streets unchecked and killed the heathens

assault was the common thing and fires too was their weapon

we escaped to the gurudwara, but anticipated disaster

it was matter of time before we were slaughtered

a strange silence had gripped the entire crowd

people talked in whispers, not daring to be loud

luckily for us the sikh regiment was in the town

did not abandon us and let the government frown

supplied the refugees enough food to survive

but even they did not know what to do with strife

someone suggested let us make a run for life

no point in just waiting for another strike

we are surely going to be dead should such attack come

we may die on our way to india but must make a run

the trains are still running, let us board them

let us have trust in god who may save us yet.

this logic was appreciated by all and sundry

requested the military to give us some safety

the soldiers agreed and we were off to the station

boarded the train, never mind the destination.

punjab was impossible, the driver knew

towards hyderabad he turned at rohri

in hyderabad another train we could take

it was just leaving as we reached a bit late

nevertheless lucky we were to be in that

learnt later that the train following was attacked.

few escaped from that train who could tell the story

they were left for dead as the rioters were in a hurry

as we crossed munnabao border a loud shout went up

gave thanks to the almighty with feelings long pent up

appeared as if this would the end of a horrible story

thank god, we lived to tell it, to him belongs all glory

(july 8, 2020)


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