The Witness

a poem by Ravinder Malhotra

A helpless girl she hardly knew
What it was all about
Afraid, trembling she recounted
It started with a shout.

Marauding mobs with swords and spears
They came with bloodshot eyes,
The childrens’ gleeful laughter then
Turned to screams and cries.

Father, mother, friend had died
Some stabbed against a wall
Was a frenzied mob that so
Not even spared her doll.

She had seen her kith and kin
Dying bleeding and in pain,
And had sobbed and prayed to God
But it had been in vain.

There was nothing now she could
Call her home and ground,
Hiding, shivering in the night
Had feared from every sound.

Through the night from far away
Came sounds she could hear,
Every moment she could feel
Them coming near and near.

For two full nights and a day
She hid behind a wall
Waiting expectantly to hear
Her mother to her call.

Exhaustion and hunger had
Then started her to tell,
She would have to look for food
Away from the putrid smell.

Littered barren streets she saw
And not a friend in sight,
Looked for shops she thought she knew
Deep into the night.

To her horror she had seen
What all had been done,
Men into beasts had turned
To have some gory fun.

Keepers of the law had come
Questioning around
Looked and pocketed things that lay
Undamaged on the ground.

To the grey haired men with truth
She told through misty eyes,
What she saw and would remain
Embedded in her psyche.

Will these grey haired men she thought
Give her something to eat,
Or would she be left alone
To fend for on the street!