(The Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) has been in operation in Assam since 1990 and in many other north-eastern States for even more longer a duration)

The sweat drips from his brow

and makes the earth greener.

His wife is nearby planting hopes.

And the valley admires in silence

But then a green monster comes

And sucks away all the air,

A terrified silence echoes.

From the womb of the monster

descend some uniformed aliens

who ask silent questions.

And take the man away shackled

as a prize for their

horrific curiosity.

The wife mutters a thousand prayers

that act as music to deaf ears.

The Prayers, the wails

All get dissolved in the black trail the monster leaves.

Son killed in encounter

The old lady is waiting in the light of that

Old flickering kerosene lamp,

for her son to bring the day’s rations.

And she hears a knock

On her tattered door.

And finds a relative telling her,

between melodic intermittent wails;

That her son was killed in an encounter.

Her Son! Who left home that morning

with a smile on his lips

And an empty jute bag on his cycle

for the day’s job, was a terrorist!

And immediately the lady

feels winter descending in summer

a winter that will forever grasp her

Heart and her hearth

squeezing out the last rays of hope.

Monsters feed on her flesh

She works the whole day

In that tailoring shop.

Stitching old pockets and broken dreams.

On her way back in dusk;

some of the many defenders of the nation

Pass her lecherous stares

and unspeakable comments.

When she rebukes them for their criminal audacity

She is gagged and carried to a place

where the light of law is dim.

There, the monsters feed on her flesh

one by one, taking disciplined turns

When they are done devouring;

they kill her to save themselves

the trouble of an explanation

A voice is silenced in the woods

A body is barked.

Ants will become lions

When they are chasing a cricket ball

the kids are delirious

Their laughter doesn’t gel well with some

Some of those young, sporting souls are

Are taken away to play a sport

which has just one victor, always!

All that is left to know for their parents after that

Is that dreaded word: “Missing”

One day when the third eye

Of humanity twitches open

The defenders will know

That when the ants realise that-

They too possess the strengths of lions

The forest won’t remain the same anymore!

(The writer is a research scholar, JNU, Delhi. Email: bistirna@yahoo.co.in)

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