Kids Corner

Images - of refugees fleeing from the terror on both sides of the new border bisecting Punjab in the Partition of 1947.

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Whispering Trains

A Poem by MICHELE GIBSON

 

 

When does a train whisper?

When there is fear!

When is there fear?

When there is no journey!

When is there no journey?

When there are bodies!

When are there bodies?

When they are slaughtered!

When have they been slaughtered?

When they board the train!

When do they board the train?

When they are leaving!

When do they leave?

When they fear for their lives!

When do they fear for their lives?

When they silence the people!

When do they silence the people?

When the people have voices!

When do the people have voices?

When they sever the land!

When do they sever the land?

When they control destinations!

When do they control destinations?

When you are placed on a train!

When are you placed on a train?

When they want you to whisper!

When do they want you to whisper?

When they really don't want you at all!

 

May 4, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), May 05, 2010, 8:51 PM.

What a wonderful expression of people's voices being wrought into whispers of fear!

2: Jamil Mirza (Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan), November 01, 2010, 9:56 PM.

It's a wonderful poem. In the year 1986, I was standing on platform No.6 of the Lahore railway station. I saw a girl wearing a burqa embracing a Sikh and two young boys were standing near by. This scene astonished me. I asked the boys who is this lady and why she is embracing a Sikh. One of them told me, "he is our sister and the old Sikh is our 'Maama ji' (maternal uncle) and the lady standing beside him is our 'Maami ji' (maternal aunt). They came from Jalandhar to see us. We are from Sheikhupura. During partition, the majority of our family members migrated to India but our parents did not migrate due to some reason best known to them and embraced Islam and we were born after partition." I also met their mother. She was 80 years old. As the train whistle went off for departure, she also embraced her brother and his wife, and went to the other side of the platform. Her Sikh brother was sitting in the train on the window side. Both brother and sister were weeping. The train moved slowly towards Amritsar. The lady lifted her hands to pray for the prosperity and long life of her brother's family. She stood there until the train disappeared. It was a very sentimental scene. I too had tears in my eyes.

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