(autobiography of a dying soldier)

-by Anshul Gandhi



This is actually quite much of an experimental work from the viewpoint of its length and format. Initially, I wanted the poem to run in two timelines simultaneously, one, the present dying state of the soldier and second, his reflections upon his past that brought him till here.

The theme is hugely anti-war and it is more of a personal reflection of war. I haven't viewed any direct consequences of war, but I had my share of reflections and thoughts on war from articles, biographies, novels and of course movies.

The spark for this poem was the movie "The Thin Red Line". The movie still runs around in my head and actually, it makes quite an impression on the viewers.

I was successful in sticking to my original plan of the format of the poem as I mentioned above but after the first day's work, I didn't (actually, couldn't) get back to the poem for a month or so. You see, there is a certain moodset required to proceed with a poem and for this poem, the particular mindset required was rather unique and tough to achieve.

It is a very long poem but I wanted it to cover most of the angles I had in my mind.

The word "White Sleep" is a self-coined term and is actually quite self-explanatory.
White refers to the calmness that is associated with Death (I know most of you won't agree with me but I am not gonna debate over it now. Try watching The Thin Red Line and then maybe you'll see my viewpoint).
Sleep clearly reflects on the state of stillness and timelessness.

Also, there is going to be another poem soon that is going to continue this issue and it will be more like a follow-on of this one.

Now, for those of you wondering as to why I chose to write on such a topic as Death.
Poems are generally written on topics that are mainly unexplainable. So, one tries to express his thoughts on the topic in as lyrical and beautiful words as possible.
Love, Life, Nature are obvious topics that fit into this category, but without looking at the counterpart of these things, you can't complete the list of the topics. And Death in itself is a topic that is far beyond discussion and infact, it is far beyond our imagination as well. So, there is obviously a lot of potential to put this topic into words expressing your own thoughts on it, hence this poem.


I lie here, uncared

while the rain beats down on my wound.

The wilderness all around me,

warns me that Iíll die marooned. 


I thought I should help my country,

and do my duty towards the land;

I left everything and everyone behind me,

thinking that they would understand.

I thought that in my uneventful life,

this would be my moment of glory;

Unknown to me and others,

I was scripting the end of my story.


I am no hero or icon,

there wonít be many flowers at my grave.

Only a young widow shedding her tears,

others, I know, will be brave.


Thrice I killed the enemy,

the first for my own defence.

My friends patted me on my back,

while I lay shocked and tense.

The second one died alongwith my sanity,

as my compassion fell apart.

The third lies beside me now,

the bullet from his gun, in my heart.


I feel the rain drenching me all over,

or is it my blood trying to wash my sins.

I can see the smiling memories of the dead ones,

or is it they themselves, welcoming me with their grins.


They told me I had done the right thing,

they told me I should be proud.

They told me that even if death came,

my heroics would live outside my shroud.

I learnt to ignore my heart,

I learnt to suppress my emotion,

I gave up on all things Heavenly,

War was my only devotion.


Who was it that I walked with,

Who was it that shared my name.

Who was it that lived inside me,

I donít know what I became.


I want to grieve for the innocence

and the compassion that just died.

I want to mourn for my dreams,

and the life that got denied.

I want it all to fade,

I want it all to cease.

I just want my share of calmness,

I just want to rest in peace.


What can I do now,

when thereís nothing that lies within.

What can I do now,

but to wait for It to begin.


I think I see It already,

the light from beyond this place.

I can feel myself go lighter,

I think I feel His embrace.

I can see the world fade out,

and the light keeps going deep.

So this is how it all ends. .

with the dawn of the White Sleep.