In The Days of War

Zeeshan Sahil

In the days of war,
love becomes simpler
and life tougher.
A soldier can take your life
in exchange for a packet of cigarettes
and for a bar of fragrant soap
that you give a girl,
you can procure
her smile, her body.

In the days of war,
people forget how
to draw lines
between explosion and an outcry
between a neighbour and a spy.
Hollow shafts become homes,
brightness becomes a blackout.
The papers write history
and death, its own name,

In the days of war,
the sun does not rise,
The world over, it is always night.



Balraj Komal

Fearsome voices arose in the dark
and smoke unfurled into the wind
A whiteness, as if of death, writhed
from horizon to horizon
and then all at once
every corner thundered with tears
A mother beat her chest until she fainted.
A sister, teary-eyed,
was still hoping.
A child, wishing for a toy as a present,
slept with his head on the doorstep.
An innocent face, its head at a window,
continued to dream.
Those eyes had been waiting for a long time.
They kept waiting.
And a whiteness, as if of death, kept writhing
from horizon to horizon.

Translated from the Urdu by Himadri Agarwal.