My one hand caged within my father’s hold
I walked the streets of Lahore at night.
Laughter surrounded me, lights dazzled me.
People crowded at every stall,
Busy buying badges, cards, and more.
I saw, I saw on the mighty looming rod
The green emblem with a shy white
Had a star hanging in the lap of a crescent moon.
The air blowing teased the flag
Making it flow like rapid waves in progression.
It held me still yet continued to flap with a grace unbeknownst.
It was love at first sight for a child of five.
Another day, and I am out with my mother.
The sun is scorching but I didn’t know the heavens will too.
The times have changed, the streets too.
It’s a dangerous feat to cross now.
I sit in the middle of the road
People are shouting,
But the sound of the ambulance’s siren overpowers.
People are running,
With their hands clasped around others
Some are being lifted, carried on stretchers and on shoulders.
Some are left lying behind as dead weight.
The stench is horrid,
The ground uneven.
Smoke has blackened the view,
Though red everywhere contrasts sharply.
I sit there in the middle of the street
Calling for my mother.
She always replies but now it’s only silence.
I call again, again and again.
My throat is dry and my voice, hoarse.
She knows I am crying but she isn’t wiping my tears.
Not this time. Not anymore.
I sit there in the middle of the street with my unmoving mother cradled in my arms.
Gunshots are being fired,
This time the target won’t be
My brothers but my enemies.
I learnt to hold arms, to defend.
I didn’t want to, but had to keep the nightmares at bay.
I became a soldier
Not to lose the mother I fell in love with at five,
Because the loss will be too great, I have already lost once.
Many more do still, each day.
I take defiance in stride,
Against all those planning harm against my mother land
I am ready to lay my life
So a child won’t lose a mother,
A father won’t lose his son.
I wait for a day
When I go out on a street again
With my children beside me.
Only with happiness ringing in air
Peace brimming everywhere.
Where they become amazed by the beauty our mother land holds
The sacrifices it conceals.
Where a glance is enough to take pride in what we have achieved.
We shall achieve the best we wish to see.
I wish to see this day,
When no son cries for a mother lost, not again.
Maryum Nazish (winner of poetry competition) is a student of English Literature at Lahore College for Women University. and she can be reached at [email protected]