Cruelty is not just the label you seek on your cage-free egg packaging in the first world.
It is not bound to the blood stains of a child near a suicide bomber in the patronized third.
It is also the sight of a father who cries out “Minni” from a hospital bed because he trusts no other,
yet she can do nothing for the face that is begging to live;
Apart from spewing profanities and beseeching Shiv;
That she hoped for a miracle in a land that notoriously sells miracles,
yet she could only watch him wither as relatives poured in with their sickening stares of his face stuck to an oxygen mask;
That he would have died in greater peace in a land that notoriously masks aloofness,
yet would come with the casualty of his coffin on a 14 hour flight bearing his wife and mother who wouldn’t last.
It is also the tears that have become so salty that your eyes burn when you release them,
an irony of the relief they served in the eyes of the father as effects of chemo,
the other in the daughter relentlessly missing him at home.
Cruelty is partaking in any pain undeserved, in flesh or abandonment of the soul,
The resulting statistics we so casually compare; the unsung heroes and their stories untold.
But as I pause to make another silly joke, occasionally invoking a stranger’s laughter as toll,
I look Cowardice in the eye all the while, acknowledging that today is another battle I’ve won,
That I shall not be broken by Him tomorrow, and face other duties to be done.
“Cowardice is the mother of cruelty” – Michel de Montaigne