Two doctors, Barnali and Patrick, who studied in AFMC, Pune, many moons ago, corroborated to pen a soulful piece, a prose-poem by Patrick, and a poem by Barnali, as an homage to an eight-year-old girl, Asifa, who was brutally gang-raped and murdered. A Different Truths exclusive.
She is a happy child-woman: a girl of the hills. She skips over boulders with nary a care, her eight-year-old feet as swift as a cheetal, the spotted deer that she could see in the jungle beyond. This is her land and the land of her forefathers. They are the Bakrwallas, nomads who grazed their herd of ponies in the hills of Kashmir for millenniums moving across the rolling Bhugyaals, the high altitude meadows where the grass is green and sweet. Asifa, whose name signifies love and intelligence, has a keen eye on her family’s horses. And then she notices that one has drifted away and is gone.
The constable watches her for long moments. He pants his way up the hillside unused to this unusual activity, his wobbly belly coming in the way. And then his gang strikes. Surrounded by these grown men, her swift feet have no way to run. As they pin her down, she fights and kicks demanding her freedom. She is tied up with cords and hustled into the local temple: a makeshift structure of brick and wood with broken window panes. Sedated to drain the fight out of her she is raped. Again and again. For eight days the men send the message: the Bakrwallas have to leave.
Then they take her back into the hills. A boulder with a jagged edge bludgeons her head repeatedly until brain matter spills out. She is left to die. The gang returns to town. Mission accomplished. The message is clear: the Bakrwallas have to go.
Today, India is burning and the world is demanding justice.
My poinsettias, they look pale for they have bled,
They bled as the drugged child cried silently in the valley,
Where the poinsettias were still red,
The grass there was lush and green,
The pines stood strong and tall.
The grazing horses, a sight serene
Now the grass is flat for they had her drag
The witness pines, they heard them brag,
The horses, they ran away home.
Only the girl, she remained,
With a torn widened hole
With a bludgeoned head
And the scarf that strangled her to death
Many miles away, my poinsettias they bled…
©Barnali Bhattacharya & Patrick Rosario
Photos from the Internet, Photo of Poinsettia sourced from Dr. Barnali Bhattacharia
Patrick Rosario: An alumnus of the prestigious Armed Forces Medical College, Patrick Rosario was editor of the college magazine. He did numerous assignments thereafter for newspapers in India and USA. Presently a well-established Vascular Surgeon residing in Pittsburgh, the USA.
Barnali Bhattacharya is a practising paediatrician for last 30 years with special interest in childhood asthma. Besides medicine she enjoys movies, reading, and fitness and is also a committed foodie! She loves nature, specially trees, flowers, the sea and sunsets. She is blessed with a lovely family and her favourite is her little grandson! She has extensively travelled since childhood, being an army child. People who know her describe her as compassionate and passionate!