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The Story of History

Maithreyi Karnoor | Updated on August 18, 2021

Collateral damage: People fleeing Afghanistan make their way to the Friendship Gate crossing point at the border town of Chaman in Pakistan   -  REUTERS

A poet responds to the emerging crisis in Afghanistan the only way she knows — with words

Directions were few, hemispheres unsliced

And history was just a wide-eyed child.

He set sail on ships with ‘the word’ as cargo

Which he traded for sugar (plantations)

And spice and everything nice,

And bodies and land, garish and grand;

He co-authored stories,

Fathered fathers of nations,

And left in his wake trouble and rubble

And righteous flags and chest-thumping oaths.

History, now, spoke with an American accent;

He ran with and hunted hare and hound.

History no more had time for stories;

History was grown, history meant business.

He waited for neither time nor tide;

With take-away meals in throw-away boxes

He rode on a drone owning everything —

What he couldn’t have, he promptly disowned.

Then, just like that his debts came home

And before he knew it, history had had it.

He was now the prodigal son

And language was his fatted calf

Of all directions, only one remained

To which history returned with bag and baggage:

The west was west

The rest, collateral damage.

Maithreyi Karnoor is the author of the novel ‘Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends’

Published on August 18, 2021

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