Faces lit up with weary smiles amidst their gnawing pain,
As the men walked hurriedly in the crowded refugee lane.
Hunger cried softly in a broken melody,
Of frail wails from a newborn’s malady.
Repressed moans of a dried breast,
Or the suppressed appeals of a weak chest.
This strange noise unheard before,
Rumbled in the Man’s body unsure.
Like rats clawing on the inside He felt
When on empty stomach they whimpered heartfelt.
Babus* of the center gyrated the enfeebled figures,
Like vultures waiting for the bad news to augur.
Twenty six rupees* shouted the white shirted Man,
Phased out twenty five pennies* He was gifted in a milk can.
Hunger, Hunger, the hungry shout;
The voice fails for the weak singer now mute.
No more noise when the lives fall but a buzz
Of scavengers and cannibals shooing the swarms of flies with a sizz.
A pair of hands brought His moving legs to a stop,
One was the insect fingers of a dying hand’s hope,
And the other that of a long forgotten conscience
Whose soul wept in a language that tried to make no sentence.
His tears crowded in the aisles of the constricted eyelids,
The trembling hands opened the lid of His water-can filled.
Their eyes twinkled as if salvation arrived,
In the jar of water His hands promisingly held.
Drops of nectar a spoon of water should have tasted,
As on the loaves of the shared bread the famished love gestated.
What is life?, wondered the Man as his hands funneled the nectar,
To the parched throat of the fellow human spectre.
This has reference to the setting of income limit for the poor and hungry in India, phasing out of 25 paise coins and the ever hungry masses in this country. The Man – He is a bureaucrat but with a soul who goes to the poor people to announce the income limit set by the government along with other government officials (Babus*). He is touched by the sight he sees, offers them water from his bottle and in the end wonders about life philosophically.
~ Trilok R. ~