Sameer Mehrab

Escape in numbness

I’m numb as wood
And I can’t feel a thing
No matter how much sex I have,
Or drink like a fish,
Or smoke like a Victorian chimney,
I am numb and can’t feel the hatred or the indignity they want to inflict upon my soul.

I was kicked in the face.
Thrown into dungeons for years.
Questioned blind-folded and handcuffed.
Abandoned under a lonely rock as dead with a thousand cuts on my broken body,
With a shattered soul but unshaken resolve.
I was dragged on city streets.
Burnt at the stake.
Stoned to near death for gods’ honor.

First my home and then my hometown and then my motherland were turned into a prison.
I was asked all sorts of questions:
“Where I’m coming from, where I’m going?”
I was asked to prove my patriotism.
When the state asks questions and answers none,
When asking questions becomes a crime,
Then the philosophers are poisoned and the gathered crowd looks the other way.
When reason vanishes, men begin to believe in talking serpents and flying goats,
Killing of own children becomes sacrifice and rapes end up in marriages.

But I can’t feel a thing.

Numbness isn’t limited to a sensory level.
It can engulf your soul when patriotism runs high and you kiss the hands of a funny-looking guy.
Then a world can go utterly numb.
They see millions of men being wiped out from history,
Cleansed from memory,
Erased from their mere existence.
But they feel nothing.

The people often choose to be numb or pretend to be numb for merely being on the safe side,
Not to attract unwanted attention from the ones whoever those ones are.
Numbness can be helpful at times:
When the mere fault of questioning things like flying goats can cause you untimely death;
When the earth swallows you for smiling on the fiery speech of an awkward leader asking for blood be shed,
No matter whose blood,
No matter from which side of the map,
After all the color is the same,
The reason is always the same – the glory of gods and patriotism.

When you start asking questions,
When you stop pretending to be numb,
You’re going to change sides.
You’ll be marked.
You’ll lose your right to mere existence.

They say our age is different.
They say we can ask as many questions as we want.
They say the age of pretending to be numb is over.
But I still feel numb,
As numb as a hard rock in a bottom of a well in no man’s land.
And I will remain so till the day when men and women are not stoned to death for doubting fables told centuries ago,
For refusing to see flying goats.
Till gods stop getting pleasure from the sacrifice of children.

I will remain numb because it is the only escape from a world where dead men are feared.
I’ll remain numb when your gods keep liking the taste of your children’s blood.
I’ll remain numb till you continue taking pride in shedding blood for fables told centuries ago.
I’ll remain numb if you keep seeing flying goats.

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Sameer Mehrab is a writer and co-founder of Balochistan Times. He often depicts Balochistan's socio-political dilemmas in his fiction and poetry. He is based in Canada.

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