• Ruqayah Caron

The Drums

she was only young, had the world at her feet

every star in the sky a new ambition to reach

wanted to be a doctor, scientist or MP

her dreams often so big, they didn’t fit in her sleep

she was only a village girl with little to eat

she’d make it out of town, and the locals would see

you see, they didn’t believe that girls could succeed

success lay in a husband and what lay in between

could she cook a good meal, not allow her husband to cheat?

would she keep his home clean with a fresh cup of tea?

but as every child believes, anything can be achieved

no matter the odds or who may try intervene

be it the grim reaper himself, or the local tribe chief

a child will take on the world, with nothing but self belief

she wanted to colour the sky, like the birds that flew free

she knew she could do it, she just had to proceed

not many things are stronger compared to a child’s dream

her sky came crashing down an early morning in May

solemn and sombre, the sun had skulked away

the air frowned in despair, cloaked in black as if mourning

how was it to know the dismal end to her story

she was blindfolded, and dragged, while the birds sang their tune

she pled with her captors, ‘please, what did I do?’

‘It’s time you became a woman’ said a voice that wasn’t new

her heart hurtled to the stone, this couldn’t be true

she remembered her father, his face drawn in kindness

‘none of this cutting for my baby, no traditional nonsense’

her mother reluctantly agreed, a wife knew her place

though inside she was torn, how was she to save face

she called on her ayeeyo, they went to scheme in silence

to avoid the wrath of her husband, who would punish this defiance

her girl would forever be impure if they left it too late,

too unclean for any man, she’d never survive that fate

tossed aside by the locals, outcasted by society

and she would be blamed for writing that destiny

so as most mothers do, she employed some tough love

all the while asking for forgiveness from above

clothed in darkness, the screams kept her company

pain pierced the air, narrating her agony

the fear of the unknown gripped her with strength

she tried to calm herself down with any willpower she had left

her senses had hit paranoia, every smell made her retch

her body paralysed with rope, she lost feeling in her legs

suddenly, a beating of drums, invaded her ears

the vibrations shook her body, temporarily replacing the fear

light filled the room, a shadow loomed at the entry

a small army behind her, still beating relentlessly

the midgaan came forward, the knife glinting close to the sun

as if it was icarus, that disobedient son

she rattled against her ropes, her cries overcoming the drums

she cried in vain for her father, her mother, to come

burnt leaves filled the air, as the midgaan came down

all she could feel were her insides burning out

she screamed and screamed, her voice raging with flames

she felt fire lick her skin, burning off the shame

she felt blood pour out like a river in hell

she suddenly started seeing white, and into darkness, she fell.

By Ruqayah Caron