Writing Prompt: Everybody on Earth has a tree that represents them. Once that tree dies, that person dies too. You work as a lumberjack.  Do you keep your job?

Yeesh…. ummm….well.. no? Well if I’m being given a choice here, then no. I don’t want to carry the burden of death on my shoulders. It would be horrible if I didn’t have an option though because then I’d be forced to do a job like this. This kind of reminds me of Death as a character in The Book Thief, where he is the messenger and transports souls to the afterlife.

“I am haunted by humans.”

Chilling, I know. To think that the messenger that comes to take away souls would actually fear the souls themselves. But, I can’t blame him. It must be hard to carry all that weight on one’s shoulder. It must be exhausting and overwhelming at the same time. In fact, Death describes how his work effects his mood. After transporting the many souls that met their demise, he makes it a habit to notice those things that are peaceful to the mind. Point to be noted… Death is narrating during the time of WWII, Nazi Germany.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”

Because he experienced this the whole time:

“For me, the sky was the color of Jews. When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their soul rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood […], their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities… They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower.”

Grim much? Ummm..yeah. Pretty much. But… he’s pretty humorous sometimes too 🙂

“A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH
I do not carry a sickle or scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold. And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you find out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.”

 

 

The Voices of Despair

Bullets flew past me as I crawled through the paddy field. I saw many fall down in front of me but I could do nothing to help but go on. I reached the bank but wasn’t sure if I should cross it. Hearing men coming my way, I slunk back into the field and waited. I stopped breathing for a minute and nine seconds in fear that they might hear me, capture me, and kill me. Nothing was left and there was no where to go. The only thing you could do was go forward and pray that you stayed alive for one more day. A group of soldiers were on the road laughing and talking in their language. Their boisterous voices were full of filth and hate. Anger boiled inside of me. I wanted to take them down right then and there, but they were too many. They heard a noise from a little ways away and followed it while I took the chance to get out of there as fast as I could.

The only way to move about was at night. It seemed as if I had been walking for miles. I was tired and my feet were cracked and dirty. My stomach growled. The road was pitch black and the moonlight wasn’t helping me any. Eventually, I lost track of the road and landed back in the paddy field when I felt a great excruciating pain on my right toe. I screamed silently for fear of the Paki cops finding me as I blindly tried to remove the thorn. Unable to, I kept on walking as my foot bled. I had no choice but to go on. I don’t know how much longer I walked but after a while, even the pain seemed to go away. After what seemed like hours, I saw something off in the distance, like a light flickering, and then it was gone. A few minutes later, I saw it again and this time I figured it wasn’t just in my head. I headed towards it and found a small house. I limped my way to a tree and wondered if I should get closer. What if the soldiers were using it as a base? But what if they weren’t? What if it was just a normal house with normal people inside? I could get help. They could tell me if they saw my family. 

Taking a chance, I limped across the yard to the front door. My heart, beating more times than I could count, stopped right there as I pushed the door open and ten thousand voices shrilled, resonating through my body and into the night.

 

^^This is a recount of my father during the Liberation War. It was about the time he became separated from his family when Pakistani soldiers stormed his village and they were forced to leave everything and flee for their lives.

The Book Thief

I picked the book up as I waited for the student I agreed to tutor at the library. The Book Thief, I whispered to myself. It sounded interesting. Another Holocaust book. For some reason, I like reading books about the Holocaust. They are sad and heartbreaking but they also provide another side to the story. Last summer, I read The Boy in Stiped Pajamas and it was told in the viewpoint of a nine year old Nazi boy. The story was both wonderful and heartbreaking. I cried at the end. But that’s something I know that will always happen. Holocaust stories almost never have a happy ending no matter which side the story is from.

I liked the way The Book Thief was written. The narrator of this book is Death and that in itself is so intriguing. Many times, the words are just so beautiful and poetic that I can’t help but post some excerpts here:

Death is poetic.

“So many humans.
So many colours.

They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating, like black hearts.

And then.
There is death.
Making his way through all of it.
On the surface: unflappable, unwavering.
Below: unnerved, untied, and undone.”

Death feels emotions (o_O)… that’s a whole different perspective.

“I carried him softly through the broken street with one salty eye and a heavy, deathly heart. With him I tried a little harder. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”

Death sees colors. Way more than we do.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”

Death fears us.

“I am haunted by humans.”

And I think that this is one of my favorite parts of the book:

“As the sky began to charcoal toward light, we both moved on. We both observed the boy as he reached into his toolbox again and searched through some picture frames to pull out a small, stuffed yellow toy.

Carefully, he climbed to the dying man.

He placed the smiling teddy bear cautiously onto the pilot’s shoulder. The tip of its ear touched his throat.

The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, Thank you. His straight-line cuts opened as he spoke, and a small drop of blood rolled crookedly down his throat.”

This book was a phenomenal read. The words were just beautifully written. It’s something I wouldn’t mind reading over again. I like the sound the words make when I read them aloud in my mind. In short, I’ve fallen for this book. I love the words. The poetry. Papa and his accordion. And I have most definitely fallen in love with Rudy Steiner.

“If one must have gone, why not I? Why may I not rest me from this restlessness and sleep from this wide waking? Was not the world’s alembic, Time, in his young hands, and is not my time waning? Are there so many workers in the vineyard that the fair promise of this little body could lightly be tossed away? The wretched of my race that line the alleys of the nation sit fatherless and unmothered; but Love sat beside his cradle, and in his ear Wisdom waited to speak. Perhaps now he knows the All-love, and needs not to be wise. Sleep, then, child,–sleep till I sleep and waken to a baby voice and the ceaseless patter of little feet–above the Veil.”
– W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk ‘of the passing of the first born’

Remembering the Holocaust

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever…Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust…Never.
— Elie Wiesel from Night

This week is National Holocaust Remembrance Day. I wrote these two poems a while back but I never found the appropriate time to post them. These two poems however will by no means ever compare to the actual feelings of the millions of jews that suffered during the holocaust. Let us remember them and keep them in our prayers.

The Unknown

Yellow star of discrimination
Cramming us into trains
And shutting us out of the world.
We’re all dirty and starving
But we are too confused to think about it.
We just stare blankly at our future
Which we’ll never get to see.

They line us up,
Separating us once again,
Separating me from my wife and children,
Separating my children from my wife,
The pain,
The anguish aflame in our hearts.
How could they?
Are they even humans?
Do they love?

We’re sent to camps.
Those of us that are sick
And aren’t able to work
Are taken somewhere,
Lost someplace,
And never found again.
The suffering that we endure
Feels like a stab in our hearts,
Like the whole world is coming to an end.
Is this the life that we deserved?

The Forgotten

Tears,
Anger,
Pain,
Suffering.
Death of innocence,
Empty eyes in living souls.
Heart breaking as your child
Is taken away from your embrace.
Your child,
The very same that
You have reared
For the past couple years.
Death of the living,
Slow and steady.
Gas chambers.
Silent,
Smothered death,
Death of the elderly
For no apparent reason.
Have no choice,
Never had a say,
To do anything
But absorb it in.
Our hands behind our backs.
Our eyes closed.
Made to be the forgotten.
Just another for the piles of bodies.

She Weaves Me A Casket

Weaving,
etching meanings without words.
Weaving memories,
reaping love;
I mimic her tune.
Weaving magic.
Weaving beauty,
from the inside out.
She beckons me to watch with her,
the jubilant sun,
waking up from its slumber.
Beckoning me,
and I watch with her,
everyday,
a routine.
I always find her there,
standing,
wishing the sun ‘good morning’,
as the morning slowly awakes,
stretching and yawning.
She weaves me into faith,
every night,
reciting prayers,
thanking God for the blessed life
He granted us,
and hope that we keep on
leading a blessed life
for many years to come.
Hope that we reap
many more years
of happiness.
She weaves tears,
and so do I.
I don’t want to leave her,
for a foreign world.
I want to stay.
I want to grow up,
beside her.
I yearn to see her again.
I long for her grandmotherly love.
I cry for her but to no prevail.
Unknowingly,
she weaves me a casket…
leaving me in the open,
alone,
by myself.
Wearing a white shroud,
I bury my tears,
my pain,
my soul,
under the earth,
hoping it will stay there.
She weaves me a casket,
closing me in between four walls,
abandoning me forever.

Lucidity

I had a dream today. No. Not a dream. I was awake and lying in bed. I was remembering the time dadi died. How the news of her death reached my parents’ ears. It’s strange, I never think about how the news of her death came. I know how she died and when she died. But I never remember how the news of her death reached us. Baba crying in silence, ma wailing at the side. I didn’t know what was going on but it was the first time I had seen baba cry.

When news reached my ears, I wouldn’t believe it. I remember that I kept telling myself that it was just a mistake. That it’s not true. She could not leave us. That night I prayed to Allah with all my might. But it was of no use. You could not take back what was already taken.

___________________________

I wonder what they did with her flowers.