Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Rehanul Hoque

Photo by cmonphotography on

At the stroke of midnight
When under the sway of darkness and dead silence
All the animals and beings giving way to slumber
Stand still, as if time hasn’t changed over years-
Then some party animals remain obsessed with
Women and wine; some slog away for hours
To plot and plunder, some make an effort looking for
Food and other basic needs; some are swamped with
The thoughts of becoming a billionaire;
And some burn the midnight oil to become
A professor, an engineer or doctor-
But it’s only me, a Barn owl, who in a circadian rhythm
Remain awake every night- to feel and observe;
A Barn owl- Not worth a tinker’s dam
Unnoticed and unholy, lost in teeming millions
This is how the intelligentsia will evaluate me!

I laugh in my sleeve
I know them inside out
I know how distinctly a megastar acts wearing a robe of
White, black, saffron or sky-blue
How his robe outshines his identity
How he pledges citing some holy verses
To speak the truth
How he makes use of flowery phrases
To justify his views
How he brandishes weapons
To show his might and how he holds olive branch
To prove himself a peacenik!

I’m happy that unlike an enlightened being
I don’t keep vigil praying or waiting upon an injured;
Rather I do an all-nighter to pry upon the bed chamber
Of ladies and gentlemen;
I’m lucky that yet I’m remaining free from any charge of
Accusation for such Illegal trespass-
As my observation is supposed not to hog the headlines of
Popular media, no one is going to chase me and
I enjoy the carte blanche to move and express without fear
I know these people have a blind faith upon social media like
Facebook, Instagram or Twitter-
Whatever appears there, they relish it and
Try to secure a scoop on Katrina Kaif or Angelina Jolie
Who, being regarded as embodiment of beauty, are worshiped
By people at large.

I know very well what an immense influence
Media can wield within human society
That may change even the destiny of the Pope of Vatican,
Let alone an owl
I remember a particular incident-
The trial of Roscoe ‘fatty’ Arbuckle, who being charged
With Rape and murder, was eventually acquitted
Still couldn’t recover from the media circus!
Yet, this is the very human being that focuses
On the gap between-
‘Presumption of innocence until proven guilty’
And ‘guilt beyond reasonable doubt’
No doubt, the UN Declaration on Human Rights
Is a significant achievement in the history of civilization, isn’t it?

Humans like to glorify beauty and all that is beautiful
The beauty pageants want to retain hourglass figure
And like to walk in ramp, the audience marvel at their fair skin,
High thin brows, sharp long nose and thin waist line
They make nonsense of all other entities as they do to a plain Jane
The beauty queens themselves crave for rosy lips, conch-like neck,
Oval shaped bulged face and fish-shaped eyes
Yet, beauty is a word foreign to all but some bipeds
Learning is a process that humans are exclusively credited with!

I’m a Barn Owl with a pair of round eyes and a straight face
We live in nests built of regurgitated pellets in tree holes,
Barns, cliffs or quarries without glam
Still there is no dearth of love among us
We form pairs for life, never breach trust
At best, we display courtship flights and offer food
To a mate, never commit ‘Rape’, which is
A regular phenomenon among mankind.
Unlike human an owl need not learn Marxist ideas
Or features of an egalitarian society to establish equity,
Rather an owl mother ladles out food to the hungriest first
While other siblings raise a toast to him and become happy.
I’m ashamed that in 1943, in Bengal, when millions of people died
From starvation, their great leader, rather looking for a solution
Blamed them for breeding like rabbits.

Not only are human beings pugnacious creatures
Waging two successful World Wars killing millions
But they have the prowess in devising methods and tools of torture
That an owl can’t even think of;
I have seen in my adventures how people were killed
In cold blood, how a man tied to a connector box of tramline
Bled to death as slowly as possible
With a small drill in the skull!
In Unit 731 how prisoners being locked in pressure chamber
Were tested by the amount of pressure they can bear
Before their eyes pop out!

An owl never aspires for a magnificent building like
The Chillinghum Castle or the Royal Palace of Brussels
All these speak of depredation, inhuman torture, murder
And bloodshed in the wake of glorious feats of human
Architectural knowledge!
In my opinion most humans have a blinkered vision
They visit Chillinghum Castle, fall for the lake around and
The colorful fishes without realizing all the terrible secrets
Remaining cloistered, under the beautiful façade
Of clear water!

Still, I feel the way that the radiant boy was sealed away
For revealing the truth
Or the dancing girl who was entombed alive
For loving a prince
None could hear their cries, nor could their tears make
Any appeal to civil society
They could only make numerous scratches in their resting places
Which, to mankind, are meaningless scribbling!

Therefore, those who don’t leave any mark with their artworks
Can’t be Artists;
Scientists who fail to swear fealty to certain societies
Have to meet the fate of Leibniz
Teachers who can’t bring the house down
Are not good enough
Students who scrape through exams
Are less brilliant
Orators whose tongues don’t go nineteen to the dozen
Are not gifted
Leaders who can’t fabricate about a golden future
Are not charismatic.

I become nonplussed, lose my words
When I see that these self-proclaimed lofty beings
Are obsessed with ‘Image’, more than the ‘Self’
They are cocky, self-centered, and all-demanding
Hence, they take photo shoots and selfies
It’s self-love, they aren’t narcissists
Nor are they patients of neurosis
They long for admiration, never flee from life
They visit a place of importance and talk about it
Not because the place is important
But it’s their presence that has added value to it!

No doubt, humans with their immense intuition,
Power and prospect to rule roost in the planet
Are sui generis on earth
In contrary, an owl, to every aspect, is uncivilized,
Illiterate, without glory, glamour and devoid of
Any power to bring any change on earth
Yet, what an owl can do
Humans will need a lifetime to achieve!
An owl, in flight, can alter air turbulence
Without making any sound
Let the engineers solve the riddle and
Design their aircrafts and turbines
By making those soundless!

I know well soon I may be kidnapped or incarcerated
For spilling the beans about the hypocrisies
Of an esteemed creature!
I may have to go through the ordeal
That many of my comrades have borne
Throughout years in the name of experiments
The experimenters will glorify mankind
They hope to treat humans with attention-deficit
So, they don’t care cutting into an owl’s skull,
Poking electrodes around and forcing him to watch dots
Oh! What a painful saga of torture in the name of experiment
Earlier I’ve seen torture in the name of remand
Now it’s experiment for the cause of humanity.

To sum up,
All these have helped me to learn about a species
That determines success on the basis of a race
Taking place between a monkey and fish trying to climb a tree;
Designates someone as unsuccessful if he fails to act
Together as lion and a fox
Presumes someone as fool if he remains
Truthful to heart
Considers someone as disgusting if he fails
To change color like a Humboldt Penguin
Feels someone ugly if one doesn’t know
The use foundation, mascara and lip gloss
It makes a parade of learning, assumes air as belonging to
A Superior race that may heap scorn on all others as
Not being at par with, in any respect!

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