A Rohingya Refugee Visits the Zoo
Azad Mohammed Rohingya Today
(Photo: Azad Mohammed)

A Rohingya Refugee Visits the Zoo


I went to the zoo—
The animals were overcrowded and it was full.
It took a full day to see it all.
I was young, 
It was like an early epiphany.

The zoo was also full of people wandering,
Some with families, some with friends,
Some with girlfriends, some with boyfriends,
And some alone, as I was. 

There was a tiger in its pen, 
Stripes matted with dirt
Who paced around,  
As if to change his view of the world 
Outside the cage.

Glee among the crowds, 
Small children crying.
Some were angry, others were in awe.
Some imagined the caged beast as living free. 

The life of the tiger, 
Sold each day
For your joy.

Imagine a monster in the wild,
The men who bought it’s freedom
Grow richer.

Imagine those who let the cage crumble.
Maybe they still thought the animals would be 
Sheltered and well fed
That their life could be good 
Without looking out onto the world.

I visited the beast, with everyone else
But was met by heartache and sorrow.
My humble suggestion to the world:
Let the animals free.


Awake in the night, unable to sleep,
I thought of my people trapped inside gates.
Checkpoints, guards, soldiers and guns
Monitoring the movements of old men 
Longyis caked with dirt. 

In this dream, we pace from Camp A to Camp B, 
Imagining a world outside of the cage.

Journalists arrive, ask us to re-live the trauma.
They screen us for TV, win awards. 
Charities take photos of crying children, 
To place them on brochures, asking for donations.
Diplomats speak to us in our most formal tents
They assure us they hear us, 
Then never come back.

Should the cage crumble,
They might think, 
At least we were well fed 
With sheets over our heads.

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