I played for long hours under the scorching Egyptian heat,
with my friends, the children of the street…
I had no mother, my father was my life; he gave me home and food,
I was a strong lad, living a life both satisfactory and good.
My friends envied me, for my father gave me more than what theirs did,
for all knew he was one of those who had built the pyramid!
Though I didn’t really understand it, for you see, I wasn’t that smart,
I knew it must be majestic, for all who beheld it, remarked, “Ah! What art!”
The kings came and the noblemen came, to see this marvel, almost touching the stars,
and I proudly boasted of the man who’d made it with all his heart!
How I longed to see him at work, but he never took me along in the mornings,
to see how he made these infallible giants, and brought home the earnings.
So one day, I went to him, begged to him and implored,
to let me only have a peek at him, the kings and queens from the palace door…
He denied at once, and left home, surprisingly strict and angry;
little did he know I followed him all the way, to quench my curiosity!
“Since he works at the palace, he must be close to the Pharaoh”, this is what I thought,
never did I imagine that all my beliefs would soon prove to be but naught…
As I neared the palace, joy and excitement, bubbling inside of me,
hoping the golden gates, the palace, the princes and princesses to see,
I was hardly halfway when I stopped short, shocked suddenly,
seeing my honourable father being beaten with a cane, inhumanly!
They dragged him across the muddy field, along with some others,
they threw them down and in coarse, brutal voices gave them the day’s orders;
My father and the others, slowly staggering straight, gently dusted themselves,
then picked up some sacks of stones and carried the burden up the muddy stairs.
Tears streaming down my face, burning with shame and anger, under the sun,
I went back the narrow lanes and alleys, dejected and heartbroken, to my little home…
This was the treatment meted out to those that toiled under the terrible heat for hours upon hours;
this, the gratitude expressed to those that endured the sticks and stones, craving for food and water…
I cried all the way and upon reaching my abode,
slept under the little window that let in the sharp rays from our God.
Late at night when my father, exhausted, sweating, yet smiling came,
I rushed to embrace him, trying hard to hide my agony and pain.
He told me a bedtime story, of the ‘Great kings’ and the ‘Great palace’,
but all I felt for them now was disappointment tinged with malice,
I heard the story and closing my eyes, went off to sleep at his feet,
praying with all my heart to the Gods around and above, for deliverance and peace…
Deep inside I knew that a day would surely come when all oppression would die;
when the world would be free of domination; and slavery be bid a final goodbye…
(Note: I’d like to give credit to the animated movie, ‘The Prince of Egypt‘, which was the inspiration for this poem.)
© Isha Garg
Doodle by Isha Garg