Long time ago when the bluebirds sang
Opposites met like the yin and yang;
An Archduke fell to a Serbian shot
And Europe burned in the Kaiser plot.
Puzzle it was, that first World War
Brits were allies of the Russian Czar.
Not our fight, the Yankees said:
“We just love the war-time trade.”
But German U-Boats sunk their ships
Woodrow thundered, hands on hips:
“Enough of this, hey Wilhelm Two
Will helm this war and come get you!”
The Yanks were in, the Russians out
As Lenin made Bolsheviks sprout;
War lust died, Red Revolution rose
No more war, the communists chose:
“Fight the Brits, the Yanks and French
We want sweat, not blood to quench.”
The Germans said, “Thanks comrades,
Prosper with good Marx and grades.”
Far away, a young man called Mao
Saw Engels fly and wooed: “Ni hao!”
Back to where the war was fought
The vanquished sulked, victors not.
But Allies knew what they had done
They lost more than they had won.
Months before the war was to end
A flu drove them round the bend.
American born, some studies claim
But it killed by the Spanish name.
Millions died, as Nature reigned
“We bow to you,” humans deigned.
It didn’t take them all that long
To bay for blood, blade and prong.
White raped earth Black and Brown
And took their wealth to shine the crown.
Some fair ones thought they were fairer,
Ran a ‘super race’ for their Führer —
A Chaplin clone but comic? Nein!
He loved to lay Jews on the line
Goebbels, Himmler, Ribbentrop
And Eichmann were his ideas shop
For a stranglehold on Deutschland
That expanded — first with Poland.
All hell broke loose as Nazis took
Mile by mile, and Europe shook.
The Brits and French were pounded hard
They sought help, looked U.S.-ward.
Roosevelt said what Wilson said:
“We just love the war-time trade”
But War Part 2 hit more of the world
As bigger, long-range bombs were hurled.
The Führer upped his Holocaust act
Went all out, broke no-war pact,
As Stalin’s Russia felt the heat
Battered Allies stared at defeat.
Mussolini’s men joined in the fun;
Dictatorship on the Axis spun.
From the Land of the Sun came Hideki Tojo
And Churchill seemed to lose his mojo.
But Tokyo swore by the samurai
To not let the sleeping dogs lie;
They bombed Pearl Harbour really bad
In Washington, Roosevelt went mad.
He called up Churchill and de Gaulle:
“Let’s plot that freak-moustache’s fall!”
They roped in Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek
Went all guns blazing, make or break.
Mussolini fled, mistress in tow
But they just had nowhere to go.
Rebels shot them like vermin
While Hitler bunkered in Berlin.
He shot himself, his Braun died too
But that wasn’t end of World War 2.
The Yankees itched to blast Japan
In vengeance and some bombing fun.
Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima
They cried: “Take that for Iwo Jima!”
But Yankees had Hawaii in mind
Blew Nagasaki with the Fat Man kind.
The busted Banzai men said, “Damn!”
And signed the pact of Potsdam.
Winners, losers counted the losses
As time went by, they had new bosses
Who yearned to test the arms they made
And funded wars to be back in trade.
Foes turned friends, friends turned foes
And trapped small nations in the throes.
They masked their merchant face in isms
And cashed in on the global schisms.
Rivals in the trade made blocs
Strung Iron Curtain, hung deadlocks;
The Cold War theatre moved Far East
As Korean War brought out the beast.
Kim Il-Sung the Soviet song
Syngman sounded Yankee gong.
These names may not ring a bell
They were bit players in the tale;
Stalin, Truman pulled the strings
To try out their new toys and things.
They pulled out in due course of time
But longed to fight for reason and rhyme.
Suckers they got from the horse’s mouth
To Vietnam they headed south.
Communists and the non-Reds duelled
A proxy war that the Big Two fuelled.
The world saw Hanoi fight Saigon,
As it was called in days bygone,
But knew it was a Soviet thing
That put the Yankees in the ring.
Khrushchev and Dwight Eisenhower
Fought backdoor to be superpower.
“Monopoly nyet,” the former said,
“Let’s both do the war-time trade.”
Presidents came and presidents went
To kill at will were all hell-bent.
World War 2 taught Yankees this —
Asia was lab for the lethal kiss
Of small arms and the WMDs
To destroy life from bugs to trees.
Nuclear bombs started it all
Chemicals made all burn and crawl
Agent Orange — was its name
Yankees said, “Part of the game!”
But Saigon fell, nevertheless
For Yankees it was loss of face.
Ego hurt, they vowed to be back
On another stage, with a different pack.
They found a man to fight their fight
And beat the Soviets left and right.
An Arab rich, the man they found
Was a fox with an ear on ground;
He teamed up with the Mujahideen,
This man they called Osama bin.
Afghan warlords were not as sly,
He stole their thunder, by and by.
The Afghan war was watershed
For China to be in war-time trade.
They offered arms at cheaper rates
The advantage with duplicates!
It doesn’t matter who fights who
Some nations smack their lips, they do.
They change friends at the drop of a hat
And let ideology go to the mat.
Soviets’ friend in Korea, Nam,
China switched sides with no qualm;
They helped those the U.S. did —
The Pakis and Afghan mujahid.
Let’s cut it short, come to the point:
The Soviets left the Afghan joint.
Yankee said, “Don’t mind, comrade,
We’ll make more wars to be in trade.
These Asians are a crazy bunch
They will fight to fund our lunch.
You got Saigon, we got Kabul
There’s Saddam now to be made a fool.”
But Moscow’s loss came at a cost
They paid for it, with glasnost;
Gorbachev slipped in the USSR melt.
U.S. clout the non-aligned felt.
Russia began to lose the plot
And ceded a superpower slot.
The market-communists, Beijing brand,
Eyed this space and did as planned.
From guns and pins to mosquito bats
They sold to swots and sold to swats
Traders old and new were smart
They catered to all they could chart.
Drug lord, warlord, guerrilla chief,
“Make them kill,” was their brief.
“But don’t forget our client main —
The man who holds his nation’s rein.”
A conflict here, a skirmish there —
“As long as they buy it’s fair
If a country’s quiet, make it boil
More so, if it sits on oil
Or iron, diamond, silver, gold,
Ensure they get their assets sold.”
From Cuba, Peru, Venezuela
To Congo, Libya, Angola,
The paid-to-fight were made to talk
To fight again and bark and balk.
Let’s rewind to post War One days,
When May Fourth Movement was the craze
In China against the Versailles pact
That gave Japan the Shandong tract.
Mao Zedong was in the mix;
“Spread the Red”, gave him the kicks.
But the Kuomintang had other hues
That came across as better news.
Rivals met but equations changed
As Left and Right grew more estranged.
It led to a ten-year civil war
With Wuhan as the epicentre.
You know this place, I bet you do,
Not for war but a deadly flu.
We’ll come to it after a while,
To weigh the crafty and the vile.
As War Two raged, came the Japs,
And overran the Chinese chaps.
Swallowing more than they could chew;
The chance to be king, Tokyo blew.
Nippon lost but the Chinese Right
And the Left resumed their fight.
Millions died as the mainland bled.
Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan fled.
Mao now ruled, kept things tight.
And binged on land — what an appetite!
He took Tibet, Xinjiang too;
Nothing the Uyghur or monks could do.
He sought more land, India eyed.
“You are my bhai,” Nehru cried,
“With love I give you Panchsheel!”
“Xièxie, brother,” Mao said, “Chill!”
But Mao was Mao, no matter what.
He needed war, no if or but;
He knew he would get his chance.
A subdued Lama changed his stance.
Tenzin Gyatso from Lhasa fled.
Three years later, India bled.
But home was a mess for Chairman Mao.
The Great Leap Forward failed, and how!
Revolution came, Cultural this time.
But culture gasped in the Maoist clime.
In spite of this, conflicts went on.
With any neighbour, dusk or dawn.
Soviets were first, Vietnam then,
For busting Beijing’s Khmer Rouge den.
Let’s move out of the Asian brawl
To New York, city of buildings tall.
A king to be was born in Queens,
In his blood flowed German genes.
His name was same as a Disney Duck,
He seemed to have had all the luck.
As the world rebuilt post-War Two,
The boy into a billionaire grew.
His land sold dreams — to the moon
But reaped nightmares with racist tune.
Far away, the Dragon Red
Was somewhat the same, the face of dread.
Younger than Don, a Chinese lad
Grew amidst a purge quite bad.
He rose through the ranks in CPC,
You know him well — Jinping, Xi.
I could have penned on him some more.
But China is a huge closed door,
Elsewhere too I missed a pile
Like the Arabs’ war with Israel,
The Yugoslav Wars and India-Pak,
The Syrian mess, the ISIS muck;
All these had a common thread —
Red or greenback weapons trade.
Beijing progressed to other deals,
Had every country paying bills.
The world woke up one fine day
And found itself too far gone the Chinese way.
Stuff they used, stuff they touched —
‘Made in China’ made them hutched.
Breaking free was not a joke.
Half the nations just went broke.
Flus then dealt a deadly blow
And most from China did flow —
Swine flu, avian flu and SARS
Killed as many as the desert MERS.
As these ebbed, came SARS-Cov2
And added to the deadly brew.
That place Wuhan yet again,
Where Mao lit the Red campaign!
As the virus spread, the world did ask:
“What has made us wear this mask?
Well thought out? Misadventure?
An accident or third World War?”
“A viral plot,” said Uncle Tom,
“To plant a Chinese lebensraum!”
Beijing said, “Hold your bluff!
We don’t kill those who buy our stuff.
But war it is, the enemy unseen.
Let’s shoot hydroxychloroquine.
We can fight if we live today
And keep this darned virus at bay.
If war’s to be won without a shot
Selling is preferred, killing not!”
Will Uncle Tom nod his head
For the sake of war-time trade?
Will humans learn for their good
To let wildlife be with their brood?
That Nature absorbs all the whack
And keeps a note to give it back?
They have time to mend their ways
To let their own see better days.
Rocket science one does not need
To know there’s a limit to our greed;
All those dollars, renminbis
Cannot replace the birds and bees.
So get this in your head, you Two
The earth you claim is ours too.
Courtesy – The Hindu