River Naf

-Rajesh K. Jha

Naf river 3

You were a couple of millennia late,
In crossing the Hindukush and Himalayas
Otherwise, my friend, you were welcome with the Aryans.

Why did you not, my brother, join the Caravan
Of Huns, Shakas, Kushanas and others
When they crossed the Indus, spread in the land?
Sorry you are late and we are not to blame.

Naf- train to Pakistan

You had a chance ,
when Mountbatten pulled down the Union Jack,
And Gandhi toured the haunted land of Noakhali,
Thousands of bodies arrived, dead or alive,
on this side and on that side too,
If you missed the train, Regret! Regret! Regret!


The mules laden with Tibetan riches,
And the mysterious spiritual text
written in a strange language,
Crossed over the snow laden peaks and plateau.
Walking tortuous distance,
Mules panted for breath,
monks thanked the Bodhisatva, the merciful,
we opened our arms in embrace.
What do I do if you were not around?

Naf-Bangladesh refugee 2

You had a chance just the other day,
With Chakmas, Hajongs, Miyans.
Escaping from the bloodied waters of river Padma,
Carrying the sobbing tales of ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’,
across the swollen river, against the roaring monsoons.
We whined a bit, barked a little,
But let you find a place,
in the crowded bazars of Gauhati,
shanties of Calcutta and slums of Bombay.
But you missed out. Sorry.

Naf is a beautiful river, or is it a sea?
In the dead of the night,
I can see you ,
cramming into a little boat,
bright fire of torched villages burning at a distance,
colouring the sky a bright yellow.

Bangladesh Myanmar Attacks

I can see you,
with a small sack on your head,
holding the hand of your little daughter,
an old mother or a crippled brother,
sitting in a wooden basket,
hung over your shoulder on a bamboo pole.

I can see,
Your eyes stoned with fatigue and determination,
to cross the river, sail into the sea,
Crawl the barbed wire,
to somewhere from nowhere.
But sorry my brother, You are late
And we are changed.

Naf-Alan Kurdi

Don’t remind me of Alan Kurdi,
sprawled on the shore of the Mediterranean sea,
red shoes shining,
his face looking to the ocean with half closed eyes.
I have seen the picture too many times to perturb me!

My brother,
go back to the river Naf.
It is wide but not wide enough to stop you from reclaiming your hut,
It is deep but not deep enough to drown your share of earth.
Go back and snatch your half burnt rice from the cinders in your hut,
Go back and stare into the muzzle of the Kalashnikov,
For I know no metal that does not melt and crumble,
If you look into it long enough and hard enough,
O Rohingya!

Rohingya refugees react as aid is distributed in Cox's Bazar

3 thoughts on “River Naf

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    Heart wrenching poem! It is beyond me to judge it on the aesthetics of poetry but it is so powerful on content that everything else will pale into insignificance! Such is a poem that is needed in these difficult times when core human values which the civilizations have evolved in past thousands of years, are constantly under attack across diverse lands. Let’s hope, the humanity will retrieve the lost ground and it’s journey towards more humane and equitable world would continue.
    Thanks for the poignant reminder in the shape of this poem. More power to you friend! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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