Exodus

I

They came in hordes.

They came in hordes,
hands full of toil,
hearts full of hope
of making a living,
and a longing
to fetch a life
to take back home.

They came in hordes
toting just – but just –
the clothes they wore
and nothing more,
leaving behind
the little that was
their own.

They came in hordes
to make their homes
in a strange land
with barely a floor
for a bedstead
and the night
for a blanket.

They came in hordes
to work the days
through the nights,
through rain and shine,
through waves of heat,
dust, drought
and deluge.

They came in hordes
and toiled
and toiled and toiled
until their fate was foiled
by the invisible,
infinitesimal germ
of a pandemic.

II

They went in hordes.

They went in hordes
putting together
the little they had,
hands full of calluses,
hearts full of despair
and a longing
to get back home.

They went in hordes
heads loaded
with sagging burdens
of their destinies,
and bundles
of crumbled remnants
of their dreams.

They went in hordes
falling on their way,
picking themselves up,
dragging their feet,
throats parching,
bellies crunching
with hunger.

They went in hordes
fighting the demons
of law, weather
and malady,
giving in on the road
to death, disaster
and disease.

They went in hordes
for a patch of homeland,
for a window
to their own sky,
for a whiff
of native air
to breathe.

                                                                ~ Sujatha Warrier

                                                                   Kochi, India

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