Kabul is falling

I started this poem three days prior to August 15th – the day when Kabul fell. The television channels buzzed with the news of how close the Taliban was getting to Kabul. Those three days that’s all we talked about- we lamented at the state of the Afghan people and the sorry state of women in Afghanistan if Kabul was to fall. Sadly, the day on which we, in India, celebrated our 75th Independence Day was the day that Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan fell to the hands of the Taliban. It happened all too swiftly – in the morning, President Ghani was saying how he and the army would fight back and by noon, he had fled the country. It felt like a Hollywood movie gone wrong – for doesn’t the United States always manage to thwart the terrorist group’s plan? None of the heroism reflected on-screen happened in reality. The United States walked away, leaving the nation orphaned; to fend on its own.

While the subject is sad, I am delighted to say my poem on Kabul has been published by Borderless Journal in this month’s issue along with poems, interviews and reviews of books by well-known authors.

Interesting fact : When I wrote the poem, the last line read ‘Kabul is falling, falling, falling’ However with the change in events, I had to change the last word of the poem.

Do read the poem and let me know what you think


Kabul is falling,
while the rest of us are watching
with knitted brows and furrowed foreheads
as many as hundreds 

of thousands lie dead 
and the Kabul River runs red  
with slaughtered dreams of the Afghans 
and trampled actions of the Americans. 

Rock by rock, the hilly country crumbles
at the hands of the bearded rebels. 
Into a heap of stones collapse the long-fatigued walls
and streets turn blue as district-by-district falls.
Gunshots sound like warning bells--
Death knells
for the men in pakol hats, who confounded stare 

of what is to become of them
amidst the bloody mayhem. 
Wide-eyed their rosy-cheeked children
build castles in the dirt; and their women

in chadarees --
can no longer mask their worries
as the turbaned vultures --
circle the city, waiting, to tear open uncured sutures 

 'Kabul must fend for itself,' the men in uniform say,
 and turn their backs and walk away.
 Promises made by the top brass bite the dust
 on the rugged tarmac of hopes; ‘Ah! The Pashtuns are cursed.’
 Onlookers say, ‘Those men-- tall, broad shouldered and strong, 
 And women-- creamy white, chiselled; what did they do wrong?’
 Their children’s faces
 in coveted places--

 on magazine covers, win the best photograph of the year
 for their glassy-grey eyes that glare with fear
 which we call, ‘grit’
 as on the couch we sit

 flipping the glossy pages,
 ignoring their pain and rage.
 Let’s not bother.
 Let’s all look hither

 and nod our heads
 and look on with furrowed foreheads
 and express regret for the misfortune
 Of those born in a land where mulberries and apricots are grown.

 Let’s thank our stars
 for our nation free of wars 
 while the children of Hades turn the ‘graveyard of empires’ red --
 A deep red like the juice of the ‘fruit of the dead’

 planted around the sands
 on which the Shrine of Hazrat Ali stands
 and let’s watch it happen--
 Kabul falling-- Falling, fallen.

* pakol- soft, round-topped hat made of wool
** Chadarees- Enveloping outer garment that covers the body
***Hades – As per Greek mythology, the God of the Underworld
****Graveyard of empires- Afghanistan
*****Fruit of the dead – Pomegranates – the sweetest ones grow in Kandahar (historically Gandhar)- As per the Mahabharath, Shakuni, the evil uncle responsible for the war between the brothers, Pandavas and Kauravas, was the King of Gandhar. His sister Ghandhari cursed him 
that the kingdom would never prosper as she lost all her hundred sons in the war.
Copyright@smithavishwanathsblog.com. All Rights Reserved.

7 responses to “Kabul is falling”

  1. VJ Knutson Avatar

    You capture the many aspects well. Heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you dear VJ for appreciating the writing. It is indeed heartbreaking that in today’s time and age, there is a country where human beings do not have basic freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. VJ Knutson Avatar

        Wonder what it would take to change that dynamic. You are welcome V

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris Hall Avatar

    An excellent poem reflecting a horrific situation while the west wipes its hands and walks away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you so much dear Chris for appreciating the poem. Its very encouraging.
      It is terribly sad that the country and its people are on their own. May God save them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. josephaug26 Avatar

    Humanity again has failed itself,
    Avertable calamity brought on ourselves.
    As deep blue eyes, yearn for salvation,
    Deaf ears and blind eyes push them to damnation… 😥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you Joseph for reading and writing back. Your lines are poignant and I love how you say so much with so little.

      Liked by 1 person

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