They whipped us!
The ropes, at first, caressed
our bare skins, and later snatched
a piece of meat in each strike.
It was painful.
And when the sound,
after conveying the message to the trees,
to the clouds and above that, returned
but without any hope-of-help,
it rejuvenated the scars dissolved long ago.
It was more painful.
The rusty chains encircled our
necks, hands, and finally legs.
It was difficult for us to crawl, let alone walk.
We weren’t allowed to turn back,
and we never dared too.
The dominating sound ordered us to
slither forward without any haste.
We obeyed as the stimulus of
regrets and realization but never of rage
escalated in our soul.
We could do nothing because we were their slaves
and they were our invisible masters.
The masters whom we have never seen,
but still, fear them.
The masters with whom we have never interacted,
but still, believe them.
And the master whose eagle-eyed were never known,
but yes, we trust they were watching us.


Some of our old friends, in the murky morning of monsoon,
tried to smash the chains.
And we never saw them again.
Maybe they were successful on escaping,
but we always speculated our
masters had them safe and continued our journey.
Never asking where.
Never asking how.
Never asking why.
Only desperate to reach the set point
set by our masters for that day.


When one of our brothers, in the hot desert,
was dying for a drop of water, we, when found
a drop of water on the quartz,
left it as it was there
without letting him drink.
Because we thought,
our masters might be thirsty too.
The brother died that day.
We grieved for a moment
but there were no any feelings of remorse in our face
because we have served the master himself,
and what service is greater than serving our own master?


We were told by our father and grandfathers that
when we reach to the horizon,
we will see our masters.
They will be waiting for us as much as we waited for them.
Though it was said that they metamorphosed themselves in
horizon various forms, earlier, when we were crawling
but we haven’t seen them yet.
Many of us pretended about seeing him
and helping us;
taking something from us and soothing us;
leaving alone and giving the company of solitude.


When it was pitch dark in the dale,
we were still walking because we had to reach to
the horizon before the dawn.
We walked recklessly, blindly, and happily
as we were going to witness our masters tomorrow.
Many of us couldn’t reach the horizon
but the rest of us who were on the Acme
waited and began to wail because there was nobody!
Not a single soul. Just us.
And it had always been about us only.
Never about our masters.

In the whimsical of pain, we heard a whisper
that our masters were on the next horizon.
We initiated our next journey.
Why wouldn’t we?
Because we were their slaves
and they were our invisible masters.

-Rozesh Gautam