Photo by Lewis

Photo by Lewis

An old man came from India,
scooped up his savings
to visit his new grandchild
The baby, quiet and soft,
suffered from an ailment
that marred its first days

Still the man beamed,
his heart filled with gladness
that the child was there,
a gift, a fighter
he planned to lift up
with his own hands

There was exhaustion
etched on the faces
of the mother and father
Fear cast a shadow
that threatened to
blot out the light

The old man could not protect them
so he walked in his helplessness
as he would at home,
where the streets were dusty
and the vapours drove away
the clouds in his mind

He paced the asphalt streets
in the land of the brave
A poor man praying,
a grandfather seeking
to renew his courage
on that lonely walk

And they came, with enforcements,
with sirens and loudspeakers
But he didn’t understand
their words, their manner,
Or that he had given reason
to cause alarm.

Alarm!

Slaves to concrete, pixelated screens
and hidden tools of death
The man from India
never imagined
he would be condemned
for walking on the street

Or that in the midst
of his very human battle
suspicion would settle
around his shoulders
like a dark mist
he could not pierce

Because of his skin colour
Because, he walked

Tell me

Guardians of the peace
in the land of the brave,
how is it you arm yourselves
to fight the old man,
the troubled boys and the homeless
without first considering
your own flaws?

Use force if you must
but first take a moment
to understand that
poverty, misfortune,
alien ways and DNA do not
automatically make an enemy

He walked.
He will not walk again.
And one tragedy
became three.

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. I saw the video. I can’t understand the violence they used to take him to the ground. He wasn’t resisting and he wasn’t a threat. And, to begin with, they had no cause to harass him in the first place.

    Reply
    • Yes, I agree. Am not usually political on this blog but I couldn’t shake that image. It’s not easy being a policeman either. Making a split second decision on the information available, adrenalin pumping. This was based on that case but it could apply to any number of civilian/police interactions. We seem to escalate to violence so easily in this day and age.

      Reply
  2. Police officers are sworn to “protect and serve.” Yet they are trained to treat every encounter as if it is a life-threatening criminal situation. They are taught blows that kill, not how to use hands to help. I’m so sorry the land of the brave has deteriorated in it’s own fear mongering. I know you are not political, and your poem is an example of how word art can stir minds and hearts. In a way, it is the poet who protects and serves.

    Reply
    • Charli, thanks so much for this. You hit the nail on the head. I think it’s fear that dehumanises, ironic given how human an emotion it is. The police are scared and angry, the pursued are scared and angry. A vicious cycle, Teufelskreis. Thanks for reading, for making me think and for your generosity. Night x

      Reply
  3. Thank you for writing such beautiful piece about such a tragic event.

    Reply
  4. The only “threat” this man posed was that he embodied a racial stereotype. I am horrified.

    For a time I worked for a nonprofit that did Crisis Intervention Training for police officers, who often deal with the mentally ill. The organization I worked for was formed after a woman who was bipolar was shot to death while she was hallucinating. Her radio was on high volume and a neighbor had called to complain She thought the police who came to investigate were the Gestapo, and waved a kitchen knife at them. She was shot six times.

    CIT training is supposed to help police de-escalate a crisis situation without violence. It helps in many situations. I doubt it would have helped Mr. Patel. There was no crisis here. There was only ignorance, bigotry and brutality.

    Reply
    • It is horrifying, Paula. I’m not sure if it happens more often or just that our awareness has increased. I do think it’s a tough job and I am a bystander, so perhaps I am being naive. But it seems so simple to me. The CIT training you mention is very important. If you are going into situations with heightened emotions, frightening people more makes it a clash of bullies at best and that results in injuries or worse on both sides. We need more negotiators in law enforcement, psychologists not just brute force. They are all skills to be used in tandem. But yes, this wouldn’t have helped here. Or in many other cases when flawed prior information and spur of the moment judgements have led to death. Thanks for stopping by

      Reply

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About Nillu Nasser

Writer of literary fiction. Book hoarder, barefoot blogger, tea drinker.

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Poetry

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