Happy Holi

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The bonfire she was set to light
wasn’t stitched together by twigs and hay.

No.

Her pile was made up of a hundred red bricks
multiplied into another hundred
stacked atop each other, unshakeable –
the perfect Jenga tower of crimes you’d ever see!

Each brick scribbled onto in blood,
telling stories of victims and survivors alike.

Much like the tag of shame
branded onto prisoners,
these bricks were tattooed with tales
of having been uprooted from one’s home –
both that made of iron and steel
and that made of flesh and bones.

If you’d peer closely,
you’ll see the tiny scratch marks left by a 5-year-old
before she was raped.

Some bricks smelled of Allah’s breath
as he sighed and mourned the death
of his worshippers in his name.

On one was hastily scribbled a note –
Dear God,
To take shelter from the explosives raining from above,
I walk on land mines and broken limbs of family & kin,
And I’m sure I am walking to heaven to meet you
for this is hell, and my time here is complete.
Love,
Robbed of Innocence at Ten.

She let the tears sting her eyes
till she could read these stories no more.
And then the match was lit.
And flung.

The stories turned to char –
blackened and bruised,
and this is what she smeared on her face, whispering,

“Happy Holi.”

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