Valour is mute

So if war comes

It will not be the sound of honour,

Of sturdy men in sturdy boots,

That you will hear.

It will not be the blowing of trumpets

Or proclamations of victory

For the sound of news anchors and explosions

And false promises made by your politicians

Would have long deafened your ears. 

What you will hear,


Will be a ballad of bawling babies 

Broken, Ailing, Hungry,

And when they’ll look at you with their innocent eyes

And ask you if you know where their parents went

Will you tell them that they died 

fighting a war for the country?

And when they’ll ask you what is country

Will you show them the land 

Rendered battered and barren by the acts of men

Will you show them sickness and smoke 

The absolute dearth of hope 

An economy so broke 

A sea of orphans, no home?

When they ask you what is country 

And what their parents died fighting for

Will you even be able to tell yourself 

What it really is,

And who is not losing the war?

Mekhala Saran is a student of law and freelance journalist. She holds a Bachelors in English Literature from Ramjas College, University of Delhi, India. She is also a theatre artist and poet. Find her on Twitter at @mekhala_saran.

Featured image: “The Napalm Girl” | South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc (centre), as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972 | AP Photo by Nick Ut | Flickr