Refugee by Manisha Manhas


when the

worm- bitten memories; decided

to consume us

We offered them a part of

our hearts.

And took a flight over a river.


To reach a land called




in the memory of a lane-

the silence of a town.

A market of corpses,


we were once the

sparrows of a dawn.


turned owls overnight.


Our wails – a crematorium

looms over us,

  like a cloud,


an eagle

fluttering wings;

Catching its prey,

To filter blood

and write

its migrained story.



we see those inks

bathing under the sun


shade of jujube

C u t.

The laughters of long

dead children, echo.


Their sleeves torn,

slates broken.


Taking off kites

From its canopies.

they gather marbles

and lay a charpoy.

In that  aangan*.


The courtyard of today wants

waters from those wells.

The stoves, fire.

From those heaths.


When those pots, earthern

Had not emptied into the night,

the embers of divide. Burning feet.



That night was an aching


delivering her dead. And

offering them to the vultures

for freedom.


Listening to this,

the storms gathered in no time

From the dust of grief.


That monsoon,

August was fiery as hell.

Its turbanned fate

Tied  its head

With perfumed stinks.

knocking on each door.

Asking for water.

Its dried lips

and cracked feet

spilled secrets of a


H O M E,

a pain


break our bones till date.

Our life,

the thorns of destiny

stuck into heels.

As we

made entries over

Maps. Maps

To be hung over walls.

Like the paintings

Of a dead ancestor-

the strokes

Of which

We can’t bear pain, till date.

No pictures or odes,

we hear them through

a wrinkled voice.

A crumpled breath.


a town

Over radio- Dead.


Resting in peace.

A punctured fate- a nation.


Scattering leaves.

Over its young coffins.

bazaars became

barren lamps, broke streets,

burnt shadows.


a town raped

A city cremated.


A country s l i t.


Punctuating time

Hitting arrows at the

hour’s glass


Frozen memories.

Of our infants.

Our cries

at the ghats of Ganga.-

We made a tryst

with the destiny.

A concord with the night.


That night when you came

to “life and freedom.”


We were declared dead.


Manisha Manhas is a rebel. Her family originally from Pakistan migrated after 1947 and settled in Pathankot Punjab. She is an English teacher in Punjab Education department and moonlights as a poet.


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