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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 29, July 15, 2023

Manipur | Sagari Chhabra

Saturday 15 July 2023, by Sagari Chhabra


Islands of vegetation float freely
on the freshwater lake;
at times the water
lies under the land,
at times it glides over it.
Sometimes the islands gently collide
then move away;
the Manipuris call it phumdis,
but the land and water do co-exist.

Above the crystal blue waters
fly in songbirds and passerines,
the tragopans and pea fowls,
across China, Tibet and Burma
the birds follow their own route,
partaking of nature’s fruit.
They bask in the glinting
colours of the sunset:
orange, red and gold,
making bold,
their own feathered presence.
Then before long
in a choir of bird song,
they bid adieu;
but they ask of you,
why are the Meitei and Kuki children
in refugee camps,
where only the incessant rain
is soaking in their tearful pain;
who created a shadow
between the hill and the valley,
who said islands cannot coexist with water;
who is behind this
unbeknown slaughter?
Who gagged the bird song
and the free passage of birds;
How can there be any words,
to depict the trauma
of the Meitei and Kuki children in camps,
who wish to go back to their homeland.
Whose hand lies behind the creation of a border,
who is creating this unnatural order?
The birds sigh then fly away
but the children wait to this day.

Sagari Chhabra
15 June ‘23

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