We Almost Forgot

We almost forgot,
that we were born into violence.
Habituated to scenes of death,
to the tense rhythms of curfews,
and networks of military checkpoints,
an island home that we could not roam.

We almost forgot,
the confusion etched on our faces
as our elders succumed to prejudice.
From the lurid chambers of parliament
to the intimacy of our dining tables.
How even the clergy of our temples
learned to sway to songs of war.
All the while, in our classrooms and playgrounds,
their words grated against our experience.

We almost forgot,
the moral cost of the peace we enjoyed,
the thousands of lives destroyed by violence,
and denied paths to justice.
How opportunists in gilded mansions
remind us of their “accomplishments”,
while wounds unhealed still fester.

I almost forgot
how numb I have become,
across these years of bloodshed.
I felt the pull of sadness, but little else.
I hover over chasms of anger and despair,
privileged in my safety,
unable to fathom neither
the depravity of the perpetrators,
nor the grief of survivors.
Only knowing that the sinews
of my heart would collapse
If I were to plumb those depths.

Through abhorrent violence,
we, so prone to forgetting,
are reminded yet again,
of the fractures we have inherited,
and the depraved that seek to exploit them.
Our duty in the aftermath is to
trace the contours of these divisions,
to collapse the pernicious caves
of “us” and “them”,
celebrate our common humanity,
and create paths for justice.
While we may never construct a peace
that is immune from the vagaries of terrorism,
let it be one that can defeat its vicious aims.