The flight of the dead eight

Abul Kalam Azad on Bhopal Encounter


An uniformed envoy of law
knocked at the alleged lives
of the locked suspects

The night still snoring deep,
halted in parts
by slow groans
of clanking windows
from a deserted mosque
where only the muezzin prays

“It’s time..”

Clueless cracks froze on eight faces
for whom time was an eternal line
on the palms of grief,

“.. to push you into the free world”

Relief was stuck
under the sweat of suspecting hearts

Soon, fresh clothes and sneakers
adorned those undertrial beings
like the green robe a parrot wears
every time it leaves the roof of despair

The reluctant wings
of those scared bodies
were clipped enough
to be tucked into a jeep

The tyres of that heavy vehicle
left behind dense tracks
that hide the graves of puppies
crushed under the wheels of memory

The dust collected
on the closed eyes
of angry butterflies
in the nearby swamp

They halted,
at a naked field,
with no hint of justice anywhere,

Just a streak of faint light
that soon withdrew
into the womb of moon

The eight were pulled out
and huddled close
like the words of one long sentence
that escapes every book

Bullets bounced off the dry tongues
of loaded pistols
with the strategic precision
of presumed innocence

And, in the still lifeless fingers
of the eight that flew
rifles were placed
as a farewell present

There laid those bodies,
blood from one wounded skin
fusing into the other
like the rough map
of a country filled with corpses

The common destinies
of shared identities

The final thoughts
pulsing in those nerves
drowned any shame
still weeping on the streets

The muezzin of that lonely mosque
ushered the sky
that long stopped listening

He hummed,
almost like a funeral cry,

“Allāhu Akbar”


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Abul Kalam Azad Written by:

Abul Kalam Azad is a poet based in Chennai

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