In the Twilight
She didn’t say a word
But all of it he heard
In the dark their eyes flamed
All alone in a crowd
Her hair, he did brush with
His hand all boney and veined
She did heave a sigh of anguish
His moustache in tandem bristled
They sat huddled in the twilight
Huddled in the dusk of their life
A pair of wizened mortals living
The fleeting images of the past.
Gone were the days of their blossoming
Gone were the excitements of living
Gone was the confidence from winning
their spirited wars and coveted glories.
They started young toiling with soil and tears
A hut they had and it grew with passing years
Amina, Rafeeq and little Abu were born
And came the harvests rich and strong.
Happy were those days of honest sweat
In a Hindu neighbourhood they stayed
Nature’s bounty, with all they did share
and got cheerful welcome and lots of care
The Khan siblings grew up frugal in comfort
Yet they did have sumptuous meals in concert
Rafeeq grew to be an officer in the Indian Army
And, Amina was wedded to a youth from Ranchy.
Abu had grown to be a nice teenage boy
In his school he was first, yet he was coy
All coveted his role in the drama about a seapoy,
which he did so well to everyone’s joy.
Some years gave plentiful yield early in May
So the Khans saved some for a rainy day
They dug up canals and watered the crops
and built tanks to harvest rain on hilltops.
Then they started losing out on yield
Abu stopped studies to work in the field
Costs and pests doubled; beasts died like crazy
And many men perished in communal frenzy.
The battle raged; the dead littered with fleas
The leaders brokered a hurry-burry peace
Pain and fear nibbled everyone on and on
The Khans survived but their spirit was all gone
One day, a meeting was called to order
Big companies were coming to their border
More jobs and lots of money they promised
Factories plundered the soil they had toiled
The air and water got smelly like the loo
Few got jobs, but most had nothing to do
Machines pounded and clanked in chorus
Trucks and wagons made noisy ruckus
New creed called developers descended
They smiled a lot and talked so sweet
Those that got in their way quietly vanished
Their land was taken and they were vanquished.
Abu and father packed their bundle
At night they left their valley off to the town
Rashid waited at the station to pick them up
To his crowded flat they all went.
Three of Rashid’s kids and his begum
Welcomed them with open arms and loud talk
Abu got a job in the army garage and
Khan opened his small shop on their Street
Months ate up days and years months
One day Rashid came in a coffin amid loud wails
The Khan clan grieved silently and prayed
Officers came put a wreath awkwardly stood and left
Time healed the wounds; like it did always
But more grief was in store for them
Abu died in a fire wifeless and issueless
Amina’s husband left her a childless widow
There were other tragedies they had to brave
Nature killed many and brothers killed brothers
Death lurked everywhere reveling in ecstasyRavaging people’s lives in a mad orgy
The Khans were peace loving and law abiding
They raised their kids to be kind and generous
But their wretched fate was indeed reckless
What did we do wrong the Khans wondered
And wonder did they until their twilight
Sun had lost most of its golden glory.
They sat huddled facing the twilight
They sat thus defeated and sorry.