Archive for June 2nd, 2008

Under A Sickle Moon

‘How odd, mamma, is the moon!’,
Eyes shut, child and let go
Of day’s wear and tear;
Night and sleep do despair,-
It’s past bedtime you know?
To see a child awake and scare
A frail old thing as moon
Oddly thin and worn down,
While you swaddled in silk
And a bed lined with cotton fluff,
Must to them seem very odd!
‘The moon is odd that she in coal-sack
Sleep: comfort she must lack?’
Leave the moon to its odd ways
She scowls over naughty little feys
Who are up past their bedtime.
The air is clean and mild
Sleep you must, child.
Let stars watch over you!

‘Mamma  I can hear stars talk
They twinkle as they chatter I know’.
Let, child, sleep you must
Before stars nod to their sleep.

‘How odd, mamma  is a sickle moon
With a cold and dull stare!’
That cold moon you speak of
Is odd all right; Eyes shut child;
The air is so limpid and mild
Under that odd and blue moon;
Sleep you must child!


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God was very busy. But he heard the cry just the same. He knew a child was calling for attention. He turned to all those papers piled high before him. He said: “I cannot make it today. What shall I do?”
He bravely tried to finish as much as he could. But more papers came pouring in, all requests which brooked no delay. He cried: “I cannot make it tomorrow either. I cannot make for next week, either.”
The child went on crying, without let up. ”What shall I do?” His face told it all.
God looked weary, and bleary eyed too. I guess from reading so many requests, written in a scrawl made his eyes swim. He blinked; and stretched his hands. He would have liked to go for a walk in order to give his mind some ease. But the work on hand made it impossible. The number of letters came barging in an unbroken wave: like a herd of elephants holding to its rank and file. ‘Well, I must not let any request leave unanswered.’ God sighed and went on with his tasks.
The cry went on.
He merely took eyes from his reading and said sadly,”I cannot make it for ages. What shall I do?”
The child slightly turned up the volume.”Oho! hold your horses,”Cried God. He looked left and right and he threw up his hands.“I cannot be everywhere. But his cries harrow me!”
He sent for Mother and said,”Here is the name and the address.”
“Baby Martinez,” she read and queried,” So the child wants a mother. Well you want me to be a nanny?”
“Be kind and think of this much harried Father.” He told in a few words what was expected of her, ”Be mother to a child in need.”
Thus a mother came in a trice to the earth. “Where is that child which God gave me?”
But she heard something stirring and moaning low. She looked in the direction from which the cry came. This was not the cry of the child. Because God had told the child lived in such and such address in that city over there, by a bridge.
She had his address and she knew she had to move on.
In the night under a starry sky stood a farm, which was broken down. And a barn stood still smouldering. She heard the cry just as she heard earlier. It came low and so continuous as if some one was in pain. Such pain that cannot go by itself. She felt something strange within. “God made me a mother to some child in pain.” She would have liked to leave but that cry touched her heart. “I shall be quick about this. Then I will be gone on my errand.”
In that darkness she looked to her left and and to her right. The farm was completely bare. The cry did not come from the farm she decided. That cry went on. A plaintive cry it was and it came from the barn. She knew it. Quickly she went into the barn or whatever remained of it. A cow lay in shadows. In that cloudless night she saw her head and two large moist eyes. A few stars winked here and there. She knew from one look what hurt her. She bent down and checked her. “Yes she was giving birth to a calf and something stopped her.” She hesitated, ”Should I dirty myself in lending my hand to this beast? It is for her owner to worry about.” She remembered the burnt-down farm. She  knew the cow would die if she did not relieve her distress. Also her calf. ‘What shall I do?’ She felt sorry. She remembered what she was there on the earth for. “I must attend to the child who cries still.” Yet she pitied that helpless calf . ‘I shall not waste time, no more than what is necessary.’
Down to her knees she went and in the cover of darkness she did all she could. It was sufficient. She pulled out the calf which was wet and slithery. Instantly the calf was being attended to by its mother. Nothing else mattered anymore. With grunts of pleasure the beast licked her calf dry. ‘Thlaak! Thlaak!” the cow went on with her fat tongue; and oh how she swatted with her tail every insect which came closer.
The mother silenly removed herself from there.
To her dismay she had arrived on the outskirts of El Kobe a town that was in turmoil. Soldiers had just combed the place thoroughly and took away all the able bodied men. Women were crying desolate and old hags huddled here and there like zombies. One woman seeing the stranger spat out,” Have you come down dressed to the nines for your fun? See our misery and be entertained.”
The mother felt it like stab to her vitals. She went to her disregarding her spite and indiscreet words.” Consider me as a sister. I am also a woman like you.”
“ Oh yes. But what do you know of loss or sorrow?” She wept. The mother quietly put her arms around her,” Shh.I shall try to make you feel good.” She sat there while the rest of the women slowly approached her and they knew she for all her well- fed looks and strange clothes was one of them. She heard them all and did her best to raise their spirits.  “I know a war eats up her own children and leaves a rotten trail of misery.”
Suddenly she stood up to say,” It struck me. I am seeking a child in particular. I must be on the way.” But it was easier said than done. There were many such heartbreaking moments as she had witnessed in El Kobe. Much as she tried to bring peace and quietness to those in distress she could not. Time, cruel time was very strident in dinning into her ears,” Baby Martinez! Get up and go to him.” At last she wrenched herself free and walked away.
She could see the bridge ahead in shadows. She hastened to the address, which God had given her.  But before she crossed the river that separated the new from the old part of the town, some soldiers came and arrested her.
“We have suspicions, woman.” They took her to the camp and before their commanding officer and said what the charge was. The captain in his splendid uniform heard what his men had to say. He nodded gravely and dismissed them. He turned to her and said,”You are a spy who has come in the stealth of night. You were sent by our enemies. Are you not?”
The mother took out a piece of paper on which stood the name of the child and his address. The captain jumped with a wild gleam in his eyes.
“ Rafael Martinez!” he cried with passion,” This very man we are after. We have been promised millions for catching him dead or alive!“ He laughed,”10 millions pesos in bounty!”
Suddenly he slumped with his laughter curdled; and blood was all over the floor. At that moment a horde of warriors stole into the courtyard through smoke and cries. They came where the captain lay dead. They came where only a woman stood in the middle surrounded by dead men. Their leader a wild desperado who saved her asked what on earth she was being held there for. She said all that she knew. While his soldiers cleared the dead bodies the chief looked at the slip of paper and said in a wonder.”I am Martinez. The address is also correct!”
“O son, I am sent. Don’t ask me from where. I am here.”
But the wild man in fatigues stained with blood and grime shrank from her reach. Having got over his shock he said with short laugh,” I cried my heart out, once, for a mother.”
“How strange?”he sighed.
The End

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