When Religion And Humanity Betray Each Other

Photo by Cristina de Middel

Photo by Cristina de Middel

My eyes were closed in a dreamless sleep
when the suicide bomber at the stadium in Baghdad
claimed the lives of twenty nine
maimed dozens more
tore apart two score families
give or take a few
and they’ll all go unnamed
I’m a Hindu by birth
we have three hundred and thirty million gods
who grant us wishes if we close our eyes
and pray with all our might
according to popular belief
but I can’t even name fifteen
all my Christian friends
kneel at the altar
bow their heads and close their eyes in prayer
and every Sunday they go
to the wish granting factory
reset and repeat and beg forgiveness for the week
then there are Muslims
like my wonderful grandfather
a stellar man who kneeled on the prayer rug
cupped his palms and closed his eyes
i don’t know why we close our eyes
perhaps we do because it’s a habit we’ve formed over time
to look at the world with our eyes closed
we read the papers unflinchingly
“three women were raped
a baby boy murdered
and Australia loses by 6 wickets”
old news that will be history tomorrow
and our lives will go on
along the same old trajectory of apathy
we watch podcasts and videos
and turn a blind eye
to screaming children and broken grownups
but remember details
like how those three year old Peruvian twins
cried for their mother when she died on the airport
in the city of Brussels
and what a shame it was that the blonde siblings en route New York
will never take a selfie at Broadway
never mind their names –
they were young and attractive
and that makes it heartbreakingly tragic
I don’t know why we close our eyes to
the chaos and destruction that is our world now
or when we keep them open,
apologize for interjections about loss and agony
apologize as if acknowledging it
taints the cultivated nonchalance
“I’m sorry but I just heard about the Lahore blasts
sixty three dead
two hundred injured thus far”
the unremembered names won’t even matter
in the grand scheme of things
much like the names of the
gods we pray to
every day
with our eyes shut tight
because even when we open them
our hearts are always shut tighter
they’ve ceased to beat as one long ago
if these nameless gods
can’t help us name one another
can’t make us feel and care
can’t touch us and move us
can’t take us back to the way we were
can’t help us reach out rather than point fingers
then I don’t want to close my eyes anymore
in prayer or otherwise
I’d rather just be

Tanvi Deshmukh is a nineteen year old girl from Pune, India, with an affinity for words and books, cats and coffee, Nepalese food and hippie music, and the colour green (along with Oxford commas). Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English, she loves poetry, volunteers at an NGO and plays the keyboard in her free time. Along with devouring books of all kinds, unless of course, she’s in the middle of heated discussions on feminism, patriarchy, gay rights, or what to name the neighbour’s new dog.

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