O Pilgrims!

— Haris Adhikari

O pilgrims! O pilgrims!
Would you care to listen to my plea?

I fled to this place from a hundred hills away
losing my family in the wildfire
that smoldered for years in the villages.
Who can see the wounds I have?
Who can put some balm on them?
O pilgrims! I’ve haunting images in my dreams,
and I fear my mind will blast!
I fear not people but me.

Seeking solace, I sleep on this footway
and wake up to fuel my fury
in the midst of nights
I drink fire
and try to quench my thirst.
Oh, I’m burning in the belly, in my heart—
Can you see the flames?

My plight!
Ah, what a plight!
Life is a street dog
that barks at me as I try to love it.

Please, oh please,
convey my questions to your Gods. Ask them,
ask them why
they turn their backs on me.

O pilgrims! Ask them
what vengeance they took
on my family, and why,
and now, what they require of this boy that I am.

Uprooted, I was left to see
my origins dry. Ah, Poor me! I was just nine.
Now I do not have my sky.
I do not have land beneath my feet.
I’m a stranger in my own country,
walking in this stabbing void
among the sharp debris of my roof
blown off with cruelty
by the giants of the Age.

I know not where to go—
O pilgrims! I know not how to live,
carrying this
painful vista
of dislocation.

Please, oh please,
tell them
to move this way
and see for themselves
how desperately
a boy is looking for
Gods . . . in this Valley of Gods*!


*Kathmandu Valley is well-known for its innumerable temples and stupas and is often called The Valley of Gods.

(First appeared in Of Nepalese Clay)

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