A Lament for Unnao and Kathua

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?”

Around this time last year
a teenage girl lured by the promise of employment,
imprisoned, gang-raped and sold.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

Lord of the nations, are you not the Lord of mine too?
How long will you be silent?
Her despairing soul, utterly hopeless,
her plight unnoticed, compelled her to self-immolate,
Nameless and invisible, she cried:

“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

While awaiting justice, she receives a report
not of reparations and relief
but one that escalates her grief
the news of her father’s death
caused not by old age, accident or sickness
but by the merciless beatings with blunt sticks and clubs.
Fourteen injuries in all said the postmortem
in the custody of them who’s sworn duty was to protect.

Where is your justice, O Lord?
“Is your loyal love told in the grave,
or your faithfulness in the underworld?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”

Then the 8-year old little Bakherwal nomadic girl
whose poverty perhaps helped her survive
a possible sex-selective abortion
held hostage ironically in a temple
raped repeatedly by eight men
one for each year of her life
strangled with her own scarf and then bludgeoned.

O Lord of the poor, friend of the weak
defender of the Orphan, protector of the widow
deliverer of the wanderer, lover of the child
didn’t she qualify as the one you should rescue?

“O LORD, the God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth!
Arise, O judge of the earth.
Give the proud what they deserve.
How long, O LORD?
How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
How long will they speak with arrogance?
How long will these evil people boast?
They crush your people, LORD,
hurting those you claim as your own.
They kill widows and foreigners
and murder orphans.
“The LORD isn’t looking,” they say,
“and besides, the God of Israel doesn’t care”.”

With a sunken heart, folded hands, and teary eyes
as one with no strength and little hope, I pray,
Give heed to the cries of your people–
abused, mocked and sent to their graves
from where their feeble voice rise unto You, crying
How long, O Lord? How long?

(First published in June 2018)

By Varughese John

Varughese is husband to an amazing woman and dad to three wonderful children. He enjoys reading, jogging, playing table tennis, badminton, & volleyball, and loves hanging out with people. He enjoys writing and is an occasional blogger.

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