Dispossession – Haimanti Dutta Ray, Kolkata

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fenceHad there been a parameter

Whereby to scale the length and breadth

Of a country,

We’d have ascertained where our identities ended.

Yet there are places –

No Man’s Land, we call them,

Where, to be born, would grant us a unique

Experience of being a non-entity.

These spaces are beyond geographical boundaries,

Nations do not lay claim over them,

These are no-war zones—

And those who people them,

Belong to no one, they are the dispossessed.

 

The barbed wire fences,

Delineating countries and people,

Run along the border-lines

Of a nation, internally torn apart by strife.

Countries demarcate themselves by invisible doors,

As tho’ they’re neighbours sharing between themselves

A land, no one had truncated for them.

The landmass which lies between two adjacent countries,

Belonging neither here nor there

Has borne witness to innumerable battles and war,

Fought to gain control over it.

Has anyone ever wondered whether this land,

Barren and rugged, should be given an identity?

Like giving a name to an unwanted, non-parented progeny?

 

Imagine a boy looking and gaping,

From the other side of the fence

At another one, of the same age

As himself, belonging to a different nationality.

Yet their blood is of the same hue.

Looking askance at the other, as though

The other would be able to answer the questions

Piling up in his mind for centuries.

 

Men waging war beyond boundaries,

Are but puppets in the greater scheme

Of things. We are silent witnesses,

Of the partitioning of a land,

Which had been rightfully ours.

Women gathering stones in their utensils,

Are not aware that their patch of land

Falls between two neighbouring nations waging battle.

They are hardly aware that the stones would ultimately break their molars

Into smithereens. They work tirelessly,

Without realising that their lives

Would come to an end, suddenly –

They are the totems of our human existences.

 

We live a life, neither here nor there

In the ultimate penumbra of our consciousnesses,

We are the common man, the every man,

Inhabiting a netherworld, a world where

Every dream turns out to be a nightmare.

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