SPOTLIGHT: Washed Away by Shiksha Dheda

I remember the war
-intense, bloody-
I fought for what I thought was right.
Fought for what I thought would make a better country;
a better home.
For me.
For all of us.
For you.

Wanting to be courageous,
reluctantly so at points,
wanting to carry you;
even if I had to bear you
upon my own weary back,
I thought we had won the war.
I thought it would be worth it at the end.

Stumbling back home,
I see the native flag.


I see my home.
Torn (apart).

I see you.
-by my wounds-
-my scars.

I cannot bear your silence
-your reluctance-
-your evading line of vision.
Your disdain.
Your shame.

I yearn now for the sound of bullets,
long for the uncertainty of spontaneous explosions.
the imminent possibility of mangled death.

The opportunity to die a martyr.
A celebrated hero,
not live as a burden.

-at war-
within me.

Against this civil society.

Against you.

Against myself.

The find

I do not know how it started.

On Monday, the glass just seemed a little dirtier than usual.

On Tuesday, the speck of dust on the carpet appeared to be
slightly larger than it had been the day before.

On Wednesday, the photographs hanging on the hall in the
drawing room seemed a little less straight than it had on Tuesday.

On Thursday, all of the curtains that had any red colour were altered
because everyone knows that red equals blood and blood is always bad.

On Friday, I steamed and bleached down all the cutlery and crockery at home
before I could use those filthy things again.

On Saturday, all of my laundry was washed thrice at 95 degrees celsius and were made to dry indoors,
as the air outside must be unhealthy and dangerous.

And on Sunday, well Sunday was peaceful, a conventional day for rest-
but wait…what is this I see?

All the days of the week have been engraved on my hands in the
form of tiny red cracks and spots:
guess I just have to wash them out now.

And who knows? Maybe I will wash so hard and for so long a time that
I might just find some relief.
Some peace.


One becomes two.
Two becomes four.

Afraid to allow
an open wound
to be exposed
to the air outside

Rushing to a basin,
I soak my hands
in a
thick soapy foam.


Two minutes.

Waiting for
the voices

to quieten.
I continue.

Washing and scrubbing
to block them out.


Two minutes.

Ten minutes.

Thirty minutes.

My hands burning.
Gentle stinging.
Now on fire.

Ten fingers;
Palms covered.
Bruises everywhere,
all exposed to dirt now.

Only the cuts block out the voices.

Voices forever
whispering voices that scream
when I see dirt.

Deadly companion

Often my mind and I discuss you.
How time would be endless if you didn’t exist,
how I would be different if you did not stealthily enter
through the backdoor of my hustled thoughts
and hide behind the curtains of my flaws.
Or if you had not totally burnt through
all my other traits and remained like the sole
firefly buzzing through a night sky
of dark thoughts.

Concentrating on your being when I am in
solitude and when I am

amidst the clobbering clownish crowds,
I find that you alone are my philosopher,
my friend, my enemy, my problem,
my strength; my weakness;

my sole constant companion.

Demolishing all bonds that bind me,
creating invisible impermeable boundaries
around me, I am caged

– in here-

in this dark, infinite room with you
–  like a prisoner and a timid constantly
dripping tap.

Sleep eludes me

It is dark once more.
Night has fallen.
Yet, my eyes do not relent.

Memories flicker like lost fireflies.

Sleep is a forbidden intoxication.
I cannot trust the dark.
It used to belong to me.

My mad, senseless confidante.
A silent friend singing praise of my strangeness.
It danced in every colour.
Resided within and around me.
Engulfed me like the sweet lullaby of the restless wind.
A wandering traveller, a worthy companion.
An old lover.
A forgotten dream.

I run after it senselessly;
yearning for peace.

A colourless noise surrounds me.
The thread of sleep and peace has mercilessly been broken.

The dark no longer rocks me gently to sleep;
its silence now pierces my calm mind like an intrusive dagger.

Dark cannot be trusted;
it has conspired with sleeplessness.

I wait for light.


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