How easy to become a refugee?

How easy to become a refugee?
Mr President, Sir
You taught me something new today
I thought those who fled their nation
were a different breed
Forgive me, my ignorance
But, I thought they came from nations ruled by zealots
where violence was a norm; cursed countries
gave birth to them - and I felt sorry for them
As I watched them escape despondency, death
cramped, they crossed over to safety
They with their bags and babies in trains
Migrating like birds
Looking for a safer place
far away from 'home', hoping to stay alive
To get back someday to their land
Assisted at first, doubted next
looked down upon
And forgotten
Labelled forever 
'Refugee'

But, Mr President, Sir
You showed me
How wrong I was in my thinking
I now know anybody
can become a refugee
including me, with my designer bags
my painted nails, my children in private schools
All it takes is for one like you- 
strong and powerful, to lose your mind
To act on an urge, to want to show your might 
To want nothing more than to make a point- 
to those who step on your feet - those 
like you, strong and powerful too -
those who know nothing about me,
my children or my family
or the seas and mountains we crossed
You need not dislike me
and yet you exercise your power
to take from me, 
All that I worked hard to build 

Mr President, Sir, 
I now understand
how connected we all are
All it takes is  
an error of judgement from you and those like you
to make people like me, homeless
And reduce me, my children, my family
To anonymity-
Become a number, a casualty of war,
the subject of news Channels
the topic of dinner-table conversations
Just how easily 
We, who have pride too, become an object of sympathy
Of derision, an end to practise empathy
and be forgotten.
Mr President, Sir,
Isn't it an irony
Just how easy
it is for one to be labelled
A 'Refugee'?



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20 responses to “How easy to become a refugee?”

  1. Very true Smitha, it’s often easy to distance ourselves from ‘them’ and forget that they are ‘us’ – you’ve captured that evolution of thought very well and I think it’s also courageous of you to share the way this has changed your thinking.

    • Absolutely,Andrea. And I wasn’t sure how the poem would be taken or how I would be judged but I had to write it. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and the pat on the back. It means so much❤

  2. A powerful message in this stunning poem, Smitha! I was thinking similar thoughts as I watched families waiting in long lines of late-model cars at the Polish border. These are middle class refugees headed for tent cities! I am inspired by the civilians, both men and women, who have remained behind to aid the military in defending their country.

  3. We carry in our hearts the tragedies we face and wonder why there is so much hate that consumes our lives when the alternative is an opportunity to become greater than we had ever dreamed.

    Smitha, I appreciate your sensitivity in your poem as it is a constant reminder that we cannot look away as each of us is brought into the melee’ by our concern for the safety of others, and it should drive our own actions.

    • Elise, Thank you for visting the blog, reading the poem and sharing your thoughts. I wish more people felt like you. I suppose like you said, if we think of every situation as an opportunity to be better, to do ‘greater than we had ever dreamed,’ then we could make the world a better place. I’m sure we have ample opportunity to do so but there’s just so much anger and selfishness within us, thanks to the way we’re conditioned to be competitive and our past experiences, that it sometimes takes something as big as a pandemic or a war to wake us up. And yet, sadly, even that doesn’t seem enough for some.
      Thank you, Elise, for your words. I hope you visit again.

  4. Hi Smitha, you touch on a feeling with this poem which is behind the wellspring of support for Ukraine… This could be us ~ but your words actually takes us beyond this and makes me realize this is ‘us’… From the generations of building communities, families, friendships , and the freedom to create within a few days it all remains in tatters.

    The rhythm of your words eloquently express the fragile freedoms we have in this world, and as Andrea states in her comment, you also courageously look in the mirror and see the refugee in us all.

    “to make people like me, homeless
    And reduce me, my children, my family
    To anonymity-”

    This is the line that hit me the most – being thrust into the abyss of an unprovoked war…lost. Lives have been shattered , but this poem and the swell of support that is magically growing globally does hold hope. While there is no way to comprehend the pain they are going through, support from the global community is making a horrible situation a bit better – and creating a chance for the future. Wonderful, wonderful poem. We truly are all Ukrainians.

    • Thank you so much for not only reading the poem but for taking the time to write such a thoughtful, detailed response. I feel honored. My comments could never do as much justice to a piece of writing, the way yours has done for this poem and for that I am truly grateful.
      I hope the war ends for the sake of the people not only in Ukraine but also the neighbouring countries and for all because it is affecting the global economy and someone, somewhere who we do not know and to whom no compassion will be shown, will also be impacted. It is painful to see so much destruction- a beautiful city going up in flames and strong, stone buildings falling like a pack of cards. Unfortunately, people in Russia do not even know their country is at war as they do not have access to the news. Apparently, one Ukranian’s father, who stays in Russia was shocked when his son said their countries were at war (today’s news).
      You rightly said, ‘We truly are Ukranians’. It could be them today, it could be us tomorrow (God forbid!). So little seems to be required to throw things off-balance. Thank you again, Randall for your appreciation. Its very encouraging.

      • Thank you, and very well said this war has to end because the reality is we are all Ukrainians. If this aggression is allowed to ‘prosper’ then such acts will spread around the world, even the attitude of aggression can be deadly and stressful for countries / communities / people. Hopefully a new light will come from this, and unity becomes the theme globally. Best to you, Smitha.

        • Absolutely. In India we have enough to worry about with China at our Northern border. It’s all the more reason that Russia stops sending out the wrong message that any country can attack a sovereign nation. I hope like you say,’Unity becomes the theme globally.’ Warm regards to you too, Randall 🙂.

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