An elegy for Gaza…an elegy for everyone

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 2, 2024
Gaza.jpeg
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

As the old year died, my friend sent me an elegy for Gaza. Except that it wasn’t just for Gaza, it was for us all.

Indran Amirthanayagam’s poem is for everyone, for we lose a little of ourselves every time someone in Gaza perishes in Israel’s military offensive, or is maimed, displaced, bereaved, starved or dehydrated. As of January 2, at least 21,978 people have been killed and 57,697 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

Indran’s poem is titled Elegy for the Extended Family. To me the part that speaks most is when he claims a kinship of grief with Mosab, who has posted on social media about an airstrike in Khan Younis that killed six members of his family.

“…we too have lost six members of our family,” writes Indran, “and we will mourn for forty days,/ mark every anniversary, lay flowers at our altars/ where we live on the planet, which grieves as well…”

Here is the poem in full:

Elegy for the Extended Family

Mosab, reading your post today of the dead

from an airstrike in Khan Younis, cousins,

uncles, aunts, six members of your extended

family, six degrees that separate us, I felt

at first I did not have words to console, but

now these have come. They are not grand

or clever but spring from the heart. Today

your friends and I, readers throughout

the world, we too have lost six members of

our family, and we will mourn for forty days,

mark every anniversary, lay flowers at our altars

where we live on the planet, which grieves as well

another chemical, self-induced abomination

on the patrimony we inherited and continue to destroy.

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