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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 22, June 1, 2024

Poem: The Scream | Murzban Jal

Saturday 1 June 2024

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I was one day
Standing in a very long line
No, No
In a very, very, very long line
I don’t know why I was standing
In this very, very, very long line.

I looked forwards and backwards
And saw only a line
A very, very, very long line
Yes, Yes, a very, very, very long line.

And then I looked sideward
And I saw people lying on the roadside
Lying down in a very, very, very long line
Next to this very, very, very long line.

I tapped the shoulder of the person
Standing ahead of me
And asked him
Why he was standing in this line
This very, very, very long line.

And he laughed and laughed and laughed
And then I asked him
Why so many people
Were lying on the roadside
And he screamed at me
And shouted: “People, people what people!
These are corpses!”

I shuddered with great fright
And then I asked myself:
“Corpses on the roadside
So many, many, many of them
In a very, very, very long line
But why, but why, but why?”

I then asked the person ahead of me
In the very, very, very long line
Why there were so many, many, many corpses
Lying on the roadside
And that too in a very, very, very long line.

And I also asked him
Why we were standing in this line
This very, very, very long line.

And he burst into song
And sang:
“Our Great Fuhrer from Berlin
And his fat cousin from a nearby village
They are a wonderful pair
They say the polls are going to be
As usual
A fascistic affair.”

“Affair, affair, what affair?”
I asked myself:
“What is the person standing ahead of me saying?
Standing in a very, very, very long line
And who this Fuhrer from Berlin
And his fat cousin from a nearby village?
And
What do they have to do with me?
Me, yes, me
Standing in this very, very, very long line?”

Then I asked him:
“Corpses were lying on the roadside
In a very, very, very long line
Is no one going to do anything about them?”

And he screamed and asked me:
“Who the hell do you think you are?
Do you think that you are in anyway
Different from us?”

And I looked at his face
And I saw that he was a corpse.

I shivered with fright and asked myself:
“How come a corpse was standing in a line
As if he was really alive
And that too standing just ahead of me?
And
What did he mean when he asked me
Who I was
And that I was in no way different from him
And the corpses lying down on the roadside
In a very, very, very long line?”

I was gripped with great fear
“No, No, No, it cannot be
It just cannot be”.

Then I rushed and rushed and rushed
To find out who I was
I asked people standing
In this very, very, very long line
But no one answered.

And then I saw a pool of dirty water
And I bent myself
To see my face in it.

And then
I screamed
And screamed
And screamed
And screamed…..

— Murzban Jal

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