A Poem for Nadia Murad on World Trafficking Day

July 26, 2017

Editorial note: This Sunday, July 30, marks the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, established in 2013 by the UN General Assembly. Nadia Murad—nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and currently a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking—was among the thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted and enslaved in 2014 by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). Last month, Nadia made an emotional return to her village of Kocho in northern Iraq. Nadia’s Initiative is “dedicated to helping women and children who have survived genocide, mass atrocities and human trafficking to heal and to have a role in rebuilding their lives and their communities.” To get involved, visit the I’m with Nadia website.


Returning to Your Village

            for Nadia Murad

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

– Tadeusz Rózewicz, “The Survivor”

At twenty-four, you returned home
To find the cupboard empty
Of mementoes. The bones of your father,
Your mother, and many brothers,
Lay unattended. It isn’t easy, returning "
To ghosts, to old noises of blood, to graves
Without names. It isn’t easy, returning
To the ground where, terror-eyed,
You had lost your feet.
You preferred death, than have your glances
Torn apart by beasts. To the man
Asking your grief for a message, you said
“Come and see . . .” like Neruda.

You returned like a broken miracle returns
To heal a silenced village. That is all
We hear of your second coming. Perhaps the
Devil you worship arms your soul, helps
Your grieving legs endure the weight of tears.

It takes infidel bones
To walk through a wreckage of idols.

Photo by Rajarshi Dasgupta

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, and political science scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is the author of Nehru and the Spirit of India (Penguin Random House, 2022).