• The Shadow Warriors

    Nilanjana Bhowmick

    December 1, 2016


    On television studios they scream
    and shout. The crisscrossing visage
    grows long and short
    defacing the ugly patterns beneath a 1959 TIME cover
    that hangs on my 2016 minimalist wall
    A young Dalai Lama looks on in wonder,
    is he thinking of the mule he rode to India?
    The men, yes it's always the men
    who decide on television screens
    what the government should do—
        counter-terrorist operations? yes!
    Surgical strikes? Of course!
    Which exit?
    Under the mountain pass,
    militants? Decimated.
    Any chance Pakistan might nuke us?
    (What's a nuke? Google just crashed answering that question.)

    Meanwhile, the moon makes
    an appearance in Ladakh
    where the skies are clear
    and lit up with stars.
    The borders are quiet.
    Drass is cold
    and the pashmina goats are sleeping,
    the leopards are on the prowl.
    On social media people are baying for blood;
    the millennials,
    for them war is romance
    war is power
    war is nationalism
    war is patriotism
    war is a cause
    for a causeless generation,
    that has everything and yet nothing—
        for them war is a three letter word.

    Far away in Syria,
    a child starts in her sleep,
    a toddler has a nightmare;drones_muse
    in his sleep the world shifts—
    a drone drops a bomb, somewhere
    under the rubble
    the small hands and feet
    stop moving finally,
    the teddy bear sleeps.

    Hundreds are vomiting blood
    in a village in Sudan;
    the army is using chemical weapons
    dropping them in bombs from planes.
    War is a three letter word
    for a generation that has never known it.

    Bring on the war!
    So what, if some lives are lost?
    You — safe behind your computer screens, in your cushy living rooms or swivelling office chairs, in your television studios.
    Bring on the war!
    Some lives will be lost.
    But they won't be you.




    Nilanjana Bhowmick is an independent journalist based in New Delhi. When she is not writing on gender rights and politics, she likes traipsing through the nebulous world of human experiences and emotions in her essays and poems.

    These poems are part of ICF's unfolding Citizens against War series of literature and art, initiated in the spirit of listening: to our poets, artists, fellow citizens, against war and warmongering.

    Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.