Forgiveness

The query: “At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?”

And the answer: “Where was man?”
― William StyronSophie’s Choice

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I have lived my life haunted by

The demons of the past, that dark sky

Of Auschwitz- those whistles at the crack of dawn

Mournful, menacing, trying to warn

Each one of us alive that we could be

The next ones to be bailed out of misery..

Since I was spared from the gas chamber

I have lived my life seething with anger

At all of you- perpetrators of those crimes

Where was your conscience at that time?

 

Were you not an ordinary human being like me?

What made you participate in such a monstrosity?

Oh I know you were supposed to be hypnotized

By your “charismatic” leader, but did you realize

Your role in the widespread carnage then-

There were massacred six million women and men..

 

I wonder how you wake up every day

And face yourself, how on earth do you pray

To your God- do you also see what I see

In my nightmares, albeit differently?

Do gas chamber for “G” and Zyklon for “Z”

Come to your mind automatically?

Have you contemplated your role 

In those crimes, all the innocent souls

Put to rest prematurely while you still live

I wonder if you have an apology to give..

 

I was quite certain I would not forgive

You, enemies of humanity, as long as I would live

But, as death knocks on my door, I am inclined

To drive away the anger from my mind-

Also with time the understanding has come to me

That while I wake up each day grateful to be

Alive- I know I bypassed death narrowly

You are denied that privilege obviously

A raging insomniac probably you are

Tormented by memories of the world war

And your being complicit in murders of masses

At the end of the day, we both have losses

In another world we both could have been

Ordinary, well-adjusted people, and never seen

Or participated in such heinous deeds

I have scars, but you have guilt indeed

I forgive you finally, no longer do I resent

You, your guilt is a punishment sufficient..

 

(I have been profoundly moved by the Holocaust and descriptions of the Auschwitz concentration camps. Therefore this poem about a Holocaust survivor who forgives the Nazis on her death-bed.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That day, before sunrise

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He got out of bed, that day before sunrise

Sleep had evaded him, that was not a surprise

He felt anxious and excited in equal measure

Those very last moments he would always treasure

He was leaving home today, his flight was soon due

To travel to a foreign land, explore vistas new

As the sun made its appearance over the horizon

His plane took off, while tears clouded his vision..

**

Few years later he awoke, that day before sunrise

Now settled in the new land, to its ways wise

Again to catch a flight, this time homeward bound

To get married, a suitable bride had been found

Again anxious and eager, he knew not what was in store

The only difference being in the confidence he now wore

The sanguine sunrise that appeared as his plane took flight

Lifted his spirits, he felt his future would be bright.

**

Few years went by, and that day before sunrise

He woke up to his wife’s panicked cries

Her water had broken, and in a rush they drove

To the hospital; by sunrise they were in love

With the most perfect little bundle of joy 

Together they celebrated the birth of their little boy

**

Decades went by,  that day before sunrise

He and his wife woke up, and with misty eyes

Prepared to say goodbye, a final one

To the land that had given them a warm welcome

Had let them thrive, raise a family, prosper

Yet the thought had come to them in a whisper

Now that their son had settled and they had retired

It was time to attend to their souls’ desires

So they boarded the flight back to motherland

When the sun rose up in sky, they sat holding hands

As the flight took off, their memories they gathered

Of all the joyous moments, all the storms they had weathered

 

Suddenly he was reminded of that day before sunrise

When he had woken up with the stars in his eyes

To start a journey into the unknown that had at last

Come full circle- he thought, staring at the sky vast

He had planted stems here, but his roots were there

His weary soul needed home after being everywhere..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where do they pray?

They prayed in churches

They prayed in mosques

They prayed in temples

They prayed in synagogues

 

They identified their God

They took their pick

They  carved separate faiths

To which they would stick

 

They segregated themselves

Condemned those different

Had fights in the name of religion

That God Himself could not prevent

 

As they continued to fight

Over things largely inconsequential

Fate threw them a challenge

Threatening their survival

 

Torrential floods ravaged their town

Damaging life and property 

Those alive feared they would go down

So they prayed to their God fervently

 

The floods washed away differences

Of religion, temporarily at least

The storm had no preferences

In devastation it was a secular beast

 

Stripped down to necessities bare

What emerged was pure humanity

People helped each other everywhere

Rebuilding after the calamity

 

The flood waters receded, the town

Was rebuilt after months several

Once all the inhabitants settled down

They went back to their old squabbles

 

Churches, mosques, temples, synangogues

All were restored to their former glory

Different groups found their own demagogues

To give a religious angle to this story

 

Similar scenarios have played out

Over centuries, again and again

Disasters unite human beings devout

But united they never seem to remain..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting

Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real.

Deepak Chopra.

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When I looked back at how far I had come

Who I had been and who I had become

I felt as though I had lost touch

With my old self, I felt there was much

Water that had flowed under the bridge proverbial

My past appeared to exist in a dream, surreal

Was it a change of geography, or values, or mindset?

All of the above in combination, I bet

I longed for a glimpse of the person I had been

To revisualize the world the way she had seen..

**

I had not realized how the world wide web

Could draw me in its fold, and dust the cobwebs

That gleamed over the dusty corners of my past

Its power led me back in time at last…

An old, dear friend  found me in cyberspace

This reconnection brought me face to face

With the starry-eyed teenager all of fifteen

For whom the world was full of a bright sheen

Of hope, of promises of good things in store

Unbridled enthusiasm, that she had so much more..

I reconnected with my old friends and was reminded

Of where I came from, my past was now unblinded

The chain reaction of reconnection that began

Led me back to myself, so I could understand

My own journey better, I could reconnect

With my own self, I was able to reflect

On the good, the bad, the best and the worst

The  thing  that was abundantly clear first

Was that I was the same, changes were superficial

What appeared different was quite artificial

Overjoyed was I to rediscover myself this way

This self-actualization made my day!

(P.S. Dedicated to my dear old friend Laxmi)