NATION

The Wreckage Of Syria

Satendra Nandan’s fifth book of poetry, Across the Seven Seas, will be released in March 2017. His last book published was Brief Encounters.     Your heart is in the
05 Dec 2016 15:27
The Wreckage Of Syria
What is left of the ship ‘Syria’ at Naselai Reef at Nakelo in Tailevu,

Satendra Nandan’s fifth book of poetry, Across the Seven Seas, will be released in March 2017. His last book published was Brief Encounters.

 

 

Your heart is in the home:

In a heartless world

Your home is in your heart.

 

The world is a television screen

You see what you see

And so much remain unseen.

The world changes swiftly

With the switch of a remote :

One moment you’re looking at

The starving children

Their mothers weeping —

Death seems insatiable;

And refugees fleeing hot sands

The bombs  flashing, thundering

Like prophetic words

Where now black oil bleeds;

Between the image and the text,

Some over-fed chef appears next

In high definition technology

 

Telling: what exotic animals’ meat

You should eat

Now cook it in our kitchen

Just follow the recipe good

The world is varied in food .

While the World Vision shows

How bloated children are dying,

Killed by little men with big guns

And how your $20 can save a life

To  provide for clean water, fresh air,

In this inhuman strife.

 

How much does it cost to make a bomb?

Or buy the hunter’s gun?

Where lions roar

Ivory is sold in heaps;

Elephants lie dead in tiny hills

On such lovely landscapes

Where tall, sad women gather

Kindling for an evening meal,

Beside their children’s graves,

Some still floating in the sea-waves.

 

These stray thoughts come to my mind

On a summer’s night: I’m wide awake.

 

So it was on the night of 11 May 1884.

A ship was wrecked on Nasilai reef

Fifty-six migrants, three seamen were drowned.

There was inconsolable grief

The sea had swallowed them in its depth

When it was dark on the face of the deep.

They’d been packed like  sheep for export

Travellers from a far country’s distant port.

 

Many more, we’re told, would have drowned

But were saved by native and foreign strangers

A  road is named after one in my city

Where some were  imprisoned

For fifty-six days and nights.

I remember those brave men

Who saved so many

Fed  them and kept them alive.

The stranger is not your enemy.

That, too, is part of our story.

 

Men and papers are now lost at sea.

Few, if any ,remember what happened

Other ships ply the waves daily

As fighter planes drop bombs on desert people.

The Syria was the fifth ship

Of the  four score and seven

Which made the journey

Searching for a haven

With its cargo of men, women,

And little children

For which some were paid

And a colony was made.

 

The Beharis singing their  birahas

Had left their villages for a better life.

Men with children and wife

The Syria with 540 souls on board

Sailed from Calcutta on 13 March

By the Cape of Good Hope:

Hope was all they carried in their hearts

As blind winds whipped the ship’s sails.

Despair, destitution, desolation

All that they knew in their land,

The moon was hidden in their hand.

 

In 58 days it arrived in the Fiji waters:

It was a Sunday.

The day was holy and the night dark.

Palm trees standing  in a  prayer

A  kind of baptism was in the air.

And all that was foul

Was also quite fair.

 

Why am I thinking of that Wreck ?

Worse things have happened —

Wars, killings, coups, crossings,

Between us and history

And those lost in waves

The drowned and the saved

And those being bombed:

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

The human heart knows

No-one is without a home

No heart is without sorrow

All resides in our souls

And like life it ever grows.

I know it will rise again

And make you feel

That things will heal

As in the pouring rain

Things begin to flow in pain.

 

The wreckage of Syria

A ship or a country

Caught in the killing fields

Of our television news

Warning us of distressing images.

 

And now I must go to sleep

For human eyes no longer weep.

 

To wake up at midnight

When the  sun is up elsewhere

And I  hear  children crying

Mothers, fathers dying,

Strangers digging out the buried alive

As those swimmers who did dive

To save my ancestors

On a stormy night

When a ship was wrecked

On Nasilai reef:

I think: Is it a story

Of yesterday’s glory

Or today’s  grief?

 

Satendra Nandan’s fifth book of poetry, Across the Seven Seas, will be released in March 2017. His last book published was Brief Encounters.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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