children, poetry, political, Urdu, USA

An Eid present from Uncle Soldier

I chanced upon this heartbreaking poem here when looking for children’s literature in Urdu. The barefoot child is hurrying along, her small wrist grasped firmly by a uniformed (probably American) soldier’s hand. She is holding a bundle high–she is small, so she is trying to hold it up so it doesn’t touch the ground.


Mama, look!
Get up!!
I got this Eid gift from Uncle Soldier.
How nice they are,
these uncles of mine.
They gave me food
they gave me toys
they gave me Eid money

But they say, “Papa will not come”
And that I’ll never see Big Brother again
and that I’ll never go back to my village again

Get up!
You don’t listen to
anything I say

Papa doesn’t come, and Brother isn’t here.
These clothes that the Uncles gave me
who shall I wear them and show them to?

How shall I celebrate this Eid?

(By Muhammad Ajmal Anjum, translated by myself)


11 thoughts on “An Eid present from Uncle Soldier”

  1. The soldier could be in Pakistan or Iraq or or India or anywhere else in the world. The poem is meant to convey the heartbreak of war and it is heartbreaking.

    But it is also, or could be, a poem written on a picture of a soldier leading a little girl for some benign reason. Without knowing anything else, it becomes propaganda, and does a disservice to all the civilians who suffer in war.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. It is heartbreaking, Irving, and honestly I don’t believe that to civilians under a foreign invader war is ever really benign. I also think that it’s important to engage with the specificity of the horrors of war: the generality of “all tragedy” can hide the true suffering of people – not just one or two but hundreds and thousands–and not just timeless suffering but suffering, orphanhood, hunger, rape, pillage and misery that are happening NOW that we MIGHT change if we paid attention to specifically this suffering.

    vinod, I wrestled with the grief all day after posting this. She looked like a Raihana 4-5 years later, and I couldn’t deal with ANY mother’s little girl being cold, hungry, and surrounded by strangers and divided from family and home. While the perpetrators quibble over how much damage is being done and how much good (to THEIR political cause).

  3. Whoa.

    …is anyone else sitting around wondering why Mama won’t get up? Or was it that obvious immediately?

    People so suck, sometimes…I could wallow in this trench for hours 😦

  4. Wow! Heart-breaking poem.

    But I think the soldier is Pakistani (they have changed the uniform color from khaki to this) and the poem was most probably written after the 8th Oct earthquake. It happened during Ramazan and even till Eid, resuce operations were continuing, people still being displaced.

    I can’t forget a friend’s words who volunteered in the rescue operations when he said, “mujhey andaza nahi thaa kay Eid ki namaz kay badh namaz-i-janaza bhee parhni paray ge.” 😦

  5. Asslam O Alaikum Friends
    Just by chance I have found a poem of mine being discussed here …… I thank you all for liking this …… it was written on Eid that followed the tragic earthquake in Kashmir region …… Even mentioning it brings back the memories of that tragic and agonizing times …… May Allah have mercy on all of us …… aaamin
    Thanks again
    Muhammad Ajmal Anjum

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