Monday, March 8, 2010

An Oath

Taken by Kevin Carter in the year 1994, this picture of the Sudan Famine got the Pulitzer Prize. It is said that Kevin committed suicide 3 months later due to depression.

I opened my mail one morning 
eager to catch, 
the lovingly written lines 
by family and friends
Jokes and poems 
and true stories to match. 

Then I opened this mail 
that ate at my heart,
A little boy, so thin and small, 
stricken by hunger, 
Towards food he crawled 
in the dazzling heat.

In the shadows 
a vulture patiently waited, 
Ready to eat him 
as soon as he died.

The food camp 
 far away, too far to rest,
I shiver to think 
what happened to him next.

Would he be rescued from the jaws of death?
Would he have found someone 
to nurse him to health?

Is he out there alive and well?
Reaching out to others in Sudan
 as down and beaten,
Helping save lives 
similarly famine stricken?

I refuse to believe 
the vulture had its fill,
I know there are 
kind souls out there aplenty,
Ready to shelter 
a starving life so ill

Hope and sorrow both I feel, 
on the image my eyes stay glued.
Living in comfort 
with wastage all around me,
My lavish style 
left me guilty shamefaced.

My heart goes out 
to poor and hungry souls,
And make up my mind 
to do some service,
Taking an oath 
I will put into practice,
Giving some 
of what’s mine, I pray,
Help a person; 
comfort a helpless each day,
Something small, 
a kind thought if not the act.

(11th May, 2006, Nellore)

© Nalini Hebbar/openmind/2009 - all rights reserved
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Parth J Dave said...

It is saddening to see this picture.. There are millions of people in this World who die because of starvation, and there are millions and millions of rich people who ignore their plights. Shameful!

Beautiful and heart-rendering poem.. You brought a tear in my eye! You pen your thoughts in such simple words, but they do have a very deep impact on the reader!

Great going, Mrs. Nalini!

P.S. I've observed that calling you 'Mrs. Nalini' sounds way too formal as compared to your 'little friend' title for me. Please suggest me a name that I can call you!

Nalini Hebbar said...

Nalini will do just fine, little friend!
thanks for the comment...the mail had the same effect on me...we do so little for the's really sad!

Sharmila Ganguly said...

This is a beautiful poem and moving photograph.

Vinita Apte said...

Yes I have seen this picture before and it definitely shook me to the core.

We are living in comfort and security and someone else in this world is dying because he does not have a single morsel in his body. Makes me sometimes wonder if GOD is really there to see the suffering.

Really well said Nalini....your poem moistened by eyes...

magiceye said...


Chapters From My Life said...

That picture haunted me for days when I first came across it few years ago... with your words to accompany it .. it will haunt me more now.

BROKEN STAR (bck agn) said...

sad but true...grt post

bollywoodstylediaries said...

god, this is soo terrible!!!I hope and pray the photographer who took this picture rescued the child..

Nalini Hebbar said...

The photo haunted the Photographer and he died of depression...I think we lost both of them