March 3, 2017 4:10 pm

Our noses itched.

Hum of bomber planes in the background,

Earth shuddered and a surge of air hit from nowhere,

Occasional ambulance sirens whizzed by,

The seemingly distant rattle

Clearer and nearer.


‘Have to leave’ but where to?

I knew not how I would live,

Wherever we would end up.

Brain turned inert, time ticked by.

Shuddering of the earth continued,

Stronger, closer.

Panic spread: ‘Leave for safety, war rolls in’

Rushing I came out, necessities in hand,

Bundle of clothes, documents,

Didn’t realize then, this marked

The crumbling of our world forever.


A walk into the night,

The whole city unusually buzzing.

Shadows of men and women,

Old and young:

Complaints heard about the times

And the god’s indifference.

Possessions in single bundles

On handlebars and carriers of bicycles,

Hours of walking

Amidst the orchestra of explosions

Along a crowd-thronged road

Houses on either side

Already empty.

The next day, the road opened onto chemmani’s fields.

The endless human lines

Jostled to a stop.

Lorries, buses, carts, disoriented crowds,

Jammed, unmoving, rooted,

No one sure where to go,

Which way to travel to safety.

Salty water brimming the road on either side,

Failed to quench our thirst.

Impatient, sleepless sunburnt,

Our tears of anguish turned

The salty water saltier.


The procession moved on,

Self-styled custodians shepherding us.

Scorching sun ruthless,

Throats turning dry, water urgent.

Of a sudden rains poured.

Umbrellas turned upside down

To gather this bounty for our throats,

Wet clothes sucked dry.

Replenished, the tortoise moved on.


Yet the walk continued

Through darkness,

Into the unknown.


Kandiah Shrikarunaakaran

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