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THE SHAPE OF EVENTS TO COME

(ii)

It is not courage nor brave disregard
Of death that we are not now on our guard
Against the fast increasing nuclear arms;
Nor are we rendered dumb by spells and charms,
So that we do not raise our voice to stop
The growth of this pest for the human crop;
Nor is it mere distaste towards a role
Which is beyond our province and control;
Nor apathy towards a problem, most
Concerning statesmen and the ruling host;
But it is something deeper and acute
Which in a serious crisis keeps us mute,
Makes us oblivious to a deadly threat,
While at mere trifles we soon fume and fret.

Perhaps, our attitude is partly due
To this, that we have not a picture true
Of what will happen in a nuclear bout,
And, may be, some of us regard with doubt
The claims made for the hideous nuclear blast,
And think the damage cannot be so vast,
Or that the neutral countries will remain
Unharmed and suffer no distress or pain.
But such a stand is yet again a sign
That we are acting like unthinking kine,
For e'en young children know well what befell
When two small nuclear bombs created hell
In Japan, forcing that brave land to sue
For peace, to avoid more such bolts from the blue.

What havoc would result when nuclear darts
A thousand times more powerful, strike the hearts
Of densely peopled towns and countrysides
To spread a vapor in which death resides,
To emit a radiation that can kill
At scores of miles or burn to ash or grill?

What would befall when dozens, if not more,
Of latest nuclear shafts bombard a shore?
And what would happen when to win in war,
The two belligerents, from each other far,
In hundreds use their most destructive darts,
All aimed at densely populated parts
Of hostile lands to spread, where'er they fall,
For many hundred miles a lethal pall
Of deadly fallout long to hang on earth,
Causing outrageous weather, famine, dearth,
And forming soon into a biting cloud
Enwrap mankind in a corrosive shroud.

We should remember that a missile war,
Whether the combatants are near or far,
Will not be fought out on a foreign shore,
But in our country, at our very door,
And to our chambers will be wafted fast
The flesh-consuming poison of the blast,
Creating dreadful havoc far and near,
Such scenes of devastation, death and fear
That can the dazed survivors rob of will,
Their minds unhinge or with sheer horror kill.

Too soon the whole disrupted human world
Into the depths of chaos will be hurled,
The scene of panic-stricken, frantic crowds,
Unnerved completely by the mushroom clouds,
And stunned, when they entirely shattered find
The interlinked economy of mankind,
Their bank, industrial center, shopping site
Looking like silent graveyards during night,
Of all the glitter, pomp and show bereft,
With not a single living creature left.

The earth enveloped in despair and gloom
For ev'n a moment's joy will have no room.
Like shipwrecked sailors on an island cast
To live in utter want and often fast,
Millions will wilderness make their abode
To live in travail with a crushing load
Of sorrow, suffering and remitless toil
To build the world anew right from the soil.

I am not writing this to fling a scare,
But if it be an error to lay bare
Alarming truths of vital moment for
The whole of mankind at this crucial hour,
Of such importance on them does depend
Whether the race will live or come to end,
I must plead guilty now, and press the plea
That judgment should rest with the progeny,
Which will be better able to decide
How exigent it was to stop the tide,
That sweeping o'er the earth had washed away
Resistance to this Evil of the day.

A child can see the race for massive loads
Of these infernal engines clear forebodes,
In more horrific form and shape, perhaps,
All that I have conveyed with many gaps,
About the grim disaster threatening all
The nations, whom now their pride and the wall
Of self-delusion ne'er allow to gauge
The fury of the storm that soon may rage
To snatch their every comfort, blessing, gift,
If they complacently still choose to drift.

And all their schemes and plans, their hopes and dreams
May be extinguished, like the mellow beams
Of garden candles blown out by the gust
Of an approaching storm, seen by its dust.

If after all the experience gained by us,
And all our knowledge we do not discuss,
And take more seriously the aftermath
Of such a pitfall, looming in our path,
Which shall not only shatter all our bones,
But turn our homesteads into sand and stones,
It means that either we are gripped by sloth,
And would burn rather than turn, like a moth,
From bright ambitious dreams that hold us fast
And draw us headfirst to a holocaust;
Or, like birds fascinated by a snake,
We lie immobile leaving things to take
Their course, until the Bomb makes us its prey,
While we wait hypnotized the fatal day.

Or we are not convinced that such war can
Come to destroy the whole dream world of man,
And hope that luck or prudence will prevail
To bar the use of this infernal hail,
Or that no one is of sense so bereft
To fight a war in which no one is left.

Suppose there is a fifty-fifty chance
That combatants will use the explosive lance,
Or fearful of the outcome may avoid
The dread device lest mankind is destroyed,
What would transpire towards the dismal end,
When one belligerent is forced to bend
Beneath the crushing pressure of his foe,
While girt with nuclear arms from head to toe?

Do you think he will tamely bend his head
And yield the victor e'en this armor dread?
Or, if of human nature you know aught,
Will not just then a nuclear war be fought?
If still some doubts this sound conclusion bar
Recall what happened in the last world war;
When but one power possessed the hellish arm,
Was not yet near defeat or serious harm,
But to deliver a decisive blow,
Demolished two towns with the atomic glow.

(iii)

The state of silence that has followed close
The secret nuclear policy of those
Who have a stock or now prepare the arm,
Has been adopted not to cause alarm
And panic, sure to spread if people know
The full details of what is hid below
The outer gloss of words in which they boast
Possession of a stuff the earth can roast,
And change inhabited spots for many a year
To ghoulish haunts filled with dementing fear.
But oft to mitigate the horror felt
A lame apology is blandly spelt
That nuclear arms serve as deterrents for
Aggressive nations to keep them from war!

Not even the experts who prepare the darts,
No doubt with sorrow weighing on their hearts,
Who raise their potency with matchless skill
To cause more havoc, millions more to kill,
Know what disaster, O God, will occur
When fallout vitiates the atmosphere,
What monstrous evils will corrupt the earth,
What horrors and abortions fill her girth,
When these atrocious bombs in hundreds fall
To spoil the economy of nature all,
Enwrapping in a radiating robe
The famine-stricken, poison-laden globe.

Effects of e'en a few atomic tests
Create in nearby areas deadly pests,
Enough to cause disorder and disease,
To foul the weather, to torment and tease,
Enough to cause fear and uneasiness,
And loud denunciations from the press
Of nearer lands, affected by the blast,
Compelling them to take precautions fast.

But who can say what irreparable harm
Will follow when this foul, Satanic arm,
Like hundreds of volcanoes, bursts to pour
A vitriolic ash on every shore,
Causing climatic rigors never met,
The harmony of nature to upset.

The havoc caused is sure to take a shape
As awful as the door of hell agape,
Would show to horror-stricken mortal sight,
To freeze the marrow with benumbing fright,
As shrieking, groaning wretches twist and writhe
In dreadful postures, and in thick gasps breathe
Corrosive fumes, laid on a scorching bed,
Under a ceiling of fire overhead,
With cold sweat streaming down the anguished face,
While red-hot pins tear off flesh from its place,
No water to assuage the parching thirst
Or cool the burning fever, growing worse.
For days and weeks to endure infernal pain
Until delirium grips the tortured brain,
And soothing death the torment comes to ease,
When their contortions and convulsions cease,
Beyond the reach of aid, as no one near
Is left alive a helping hand to bear.

This is how men to quench their bestial thirst
For power, when pressed, will make the earth
accurst,
One vast, asphyxiating, lethal spot,
The dread abode of flesh-corroding rot,
A fuming hell, a prickly bed of thorns,
Of stifling eves and suffocating morns,
Polluted and infected to the core,
Abode of phthisis and incurable sore,
For decades making God's creation foul
With actions that would shame a desert ghoul,
Filling with poison both the earth and sky
To their descendants safety to deny.

In this realistic epoch we have seen
Blood spattered thickly o'er the country green
And towns, not once or twice but many times,
Not in one land but over many climes,
Showing us clearly what relentless hold
Destructive war has on the human fold.

It is a serious problem for the wise
To tackle, why despite the amazing rise
In knowledge, in aesthetics and in love,
In this one trait man could not soar above
The beasts, but on the contrary has sunk
To greater depths, as if with hatred drunk
For e'en the most ferocious creature known
To self-destructive trends is never prone.

With such a prospect and two bloody wars
Before our eyes, what mental twist debars
The elite from seeing that a bloodier third,
With nuclear weapons, plunging all the world
Into a blazing hell-fire, to our shame,
Might be fought leaving mankind broke and lame,
So dreadfully mangled that it would take an age
To patch the damage done by nuclear rage?

Why do we disbelieve or disregard
The words of those who put us on our guard
Against a possibility that can be
A stark reality for you and me,
Or all of us, demanding from our part
Preventive efforts done with all our heart?

There was a time when courage, skill and arms
Decided battles whose account still warms
The heart and stirs the blood whene'er one reads
Of bold encounters and heroic deeds.
Despite ferociousness and savagery
We still in old wars human features see,
Which marked the fight between two groups of men
From that of beasts in forest and the glen.

But now all that has changed, and war denotes
The slitting open of a million throats
Of sleeping women, men and children small,
One swift, grim massacre of one and all,
With nuclear weapons, deadly germs or gas
To mow down from a distance one whole mass
Of human beings, all left cold in death,
Swimming in blood or gasping hard for breath.

This frame of mind, against all laws of life,
Dictates of conscience, scales and values rife,
And every code of morals ever framed,
We brazenly display now unashamed,
Because irreverent ideas dead
To our divine descent possess our head.

Higher the rise the greater is the fall,
But our elite, forgetful of it all,
Despite enormous rise in knowledge still
Adhere to social patterns matching ill
With our advanced position, which provokes
Of racial consciousness the crushing strokes,
Designed to teach the rebels that the hour
Has come to abjure to dreams of wealth and power,
And find some other way to live in peace,
Not building on the ash of Rome and Greece.

There might come heavier blows that will not spare
Anyone but will be for all to share;
For those who tamely follow a wrong lead
Cannot escape the guilt of evil deed.
The more our weapons gain in power and range
The more the urgency that we should change.

When heaven intends, to suit the Cosmic Plan,
To change unhealthy habits formed by man,
To humble and deflate his bloated head,
Or cleanse the poison skeptic thought has spread;
In short, when there occurs a need for change,
A tangled thread of life to rearrange,
Then ere the evil grows beyond repair
To cure it, as a vacuum in the air,
When it exceeds a certain point, entails
From denser regions furious storms and gales;
Terrestrial life creates a mental storm
A faulty social order to reform.

See how a raging tempest sweeps away
The dust and dirt and throws in disarray
One whole affected region, bringing down,
Like match-sticks, giant trees in many a town
And country, smashing doors and window panes,
And hurling down the roofs in streets and lanes,
Causing a pandemonium while men dash
For shelter, midst the deafening din and crash
Of falling debris and the thundering roar
Of wind, in fury rising more and more,
Until with fitful gusts its rage abates,
When men and things resume their normal states.

Does not the same befall when dreadful storms
Of riot and revolution change the forms
Of governments and social systems which
In man's progressive movement cause some hitch?
Did not the same befall whene'er the rage
Of great historic wars in any age
Hit kingdoms and world empires, like a blast,
Their sovereignty and boundaries to recast?

Did not then millions with their precious lives
Remove impediments which, with the gyves
Of wealth and power, enchained a massive part
Of mankind, ruling it with as much art
As is displayed now by some nations which
In man's advancement cause again a hitch,
And so, as has befallen oft before,
The same dread process may recur once more;
This time with more destructive weapons than
Those used before by power-besotten man?

Alas, our lust for power or wealth untold
Should so befool us and our thinking mold
That, with our brilliant intellectual rise,
We should think that the measures we devise
Or contemplate, untrue to man and God,
As diplomatic trick, pretense or fraud,
Can e'er succeed against the Almighty Plan
Of Heaven aimed at the unity of man.

Can we arrest the movement of the earth,
Or shorten by an inch its mighty girth,
Prevent the sun from rising in the east,
Or cool its fiery ardor in the least,
Or hold a while an atom from its course
Without encountering its explosive force?
If not, what lack of sense in us denies
The knowledge that when nought under the skies
Can flout the laws of nature or its might
Resist, can puny man put up a fight,
By mean resort to sneaking trick and ruse,
Against a measure Heaven decides to use?

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Written by: Gopi Krishna


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