Uprooted from our own soil

Forced to flee homes torched

By trigger-happy goons ready

To swoop on our daughters

Like vultures on carrion.


Victims of fortune’s frown

We have journeyed through madness

Seeing compatriots collapse on

Broiling desert sands or

Being sucked into watery graves

While charting choppy seas…

The lamp of hope burning

In our breasts

Guided and saved us.


And so we’ve landed on the shores of

The great continent of Europe;

To the commiseration of many,

To the dismay of some.


My European Brothers and Sisters,

Let me allay your fears.

We hanker after a temporary

Shelter, not permanent residence

As would be offered

By a house-owner to a traveller

Caught in an unexpected storm.

Your alms we do not seek

But request that you make us work

That we may earn our daily bread

And rid ourselves of guilt,

Before we return to our motherland.


We shall abide by your laws,

Adopt your ways, learn your tongues.

And (God forbid) should calamity

Befall you; we’ll embrace your pain!


Therefore, do not close your hearts…..

Accommodate us – ask yourselves

If not us, then who?

If not now, then when?  






In this forest we were

The half-a-dozen vixens

As we labeled ourselves

In a circle seated

Holding one another’s hands

Swaying left, then right

Some yodeling, some whistling

Serenading hidden wood-sprites

At times bursting into birdsong

Until I played spoilsport

To answer a phone call

Defying a dour diktat:

Cell phones (as also children)

Should be left behind at home


I now see them

Susan’s shuffling the cards

Tina’s head lolls on Fatima’s

Left shoulder; taking in

Laughter, chatter and breeze

Mary (the munchkin among us)

Munches marmaladed toast

Radha laughs full-throated

Then stops on seeing me

Shouting, “Zarine, join us…

Switch off that…What the hell!”

I look past her; Disappointment

Momentarily clouds her until

Dissipated by a gusty laugh


It was ladies first

And so we vixens arrived

Early; wanting time for us

To do as we pleased:

Excoriate a common enemy

Disturb a humming hive

Or chase butterflies

We had instructed the men

To start late; leaving

No vice untouched

So as to arrive satiated

Not the usual grumpy oafs

Cadging cigarettes…


Only Radha I do now see

Have the others disappeared?

Her laugh shakes the trees

I approach her, shaking

Cursing myself and cell phone

Searching for words

Rehearsing appropriate faces

How should I break

News of the mishap?

Her husband now but a candle

Whose flame’s been snuffed out

The spouses of the rest

Lying on hospital-beds

Yet mercifully breathing.


© Satish Pendharkar


Biographical Note:

"I live in Mumbai in India and have a full-time job. My short stories have been published by New Asian Writing, Savvy, Flash, etc. My poems have appeared in Agave Magazine, Maverick, Indian Literature, dotdotdash, etc. I have published a book of poems titled Nocturnal Nomad. My play, The Last Journey, was one of the 3 plays short-listed for the Hindu Metroplus Playwright Award 2012."