The Return of Pegasus

Name a spyware after a Greek myth,
And ensure the divinity of surveillance.
Name a white horse for misdeeds,
And seal the metaphor of conquest.
The hoof that sprouted springs will
Now sprout nightmares in your head.
The Pegasus has returned without
Wings and hope. It is has returned
Like a rat during a pandemic. It eats
Your words for food, but it cannot
Digest them: power has a weak tummy.
Our privacy is no longer a secret. It is
Stored in machines that do not have the
Will to decide, the power to resist.
You can’t trust a machine, the way you
Trust a friend. Technology is traitor,
And collaborator, all it needs is an enemy.
Spy stories are as old as history. The horse
Metamorphosed into beasts on wheels,
Adding glamour and speed to conspiracies.
In a world of broken mythologies, spies
Move like shadows in their world of shadow.
They serve invisible, nameless monsters,
Who do not belong even to themselves, and
Invade us as occupied territories, treat
Our words like illegal goods, steal our lives.

The Pegasus Project is a collaborative investigation that involves more than 80 journalists from 17 news organisations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab. Read all our coverage here.

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is the author of The Town Slowly Empties: On Life and Culture during Lockdown (Headpress, Copper Coin, 2021), Looking for the Nation: Towards Another Idea of India (Speaking Tiger, 2018), and Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (The London Magazine, 2013).

Featured illustration: The Wire

This poem was first published on The Wire. Read it here