My mother once told me a story
Of when she was a little girl,
How the entire village huddled up inside a church,
When the bombs dropped.
And the surprise checking they endured
My grandmother would pick her up
And carry her on her back
Praying they would not rape mothers and children.
For my great uncle,
A young man then,
There was no escape.
He was lined up,
Hung upside down
And whipped like a dog.
His brothers ran into the forest
With bullets chasing them.
And like most mothers, she has not repeated the story,
Preferring to forget.
Scars are scars.
Digging at them won’t make them disappear.
There has been amnesty since
And an uneasy peace.
My great uncle long dead
Rests uneasily in his grave.
He awaits his brothers
Whose corpses are yet to be found.
Their spirits seethe in a mother’s denial.
Their sons still run,
Their daughters still afraid.
You may outrun a bullet
But you cannot outrun prejudice,
The war rages on.
*”What does an Indian look like?
An Indian looks like you, like me.”
(*the last two lines are from ‘What does An Indian Look Like?’ ~ Dr. Cherrie L. Chhangte. With due apologies)