By Promod Puri
A holy man in saffron stole proclaims:
“close your eyes, forget the hunger
meditate for transcendental wonder.”
Heard from a nearby mosque,
“Allah is great,”
get blessed from the devout place.
More cordial and sacred invites:
and other lights.
In our woeful sail,
we put on
badges of multi-faith.
Then an abrupt flash:
“There is no god, my friend,”
“take refuge in our progressive den.”
in the maze of multi-paths.
Some wise folks gave us the direction: “stay on the Left,”
promising shelter, food (with vodka and rum),
but, “don’t grumble, stay mum.”
Others plead us to the Right
to become “great again,”
affirming wealth in the promising lane.
We’ve put on all the tags, walked all the treks,
victims of the system, with marks
of terror and wars.
In chopping waters, dingy boats
hunted and chased by the security guards,
we search for safe and snug spots.
With loads of bricks on our heads,
raising buildings but living in the sheds.
And for some the homeless one,
the roof is the sky, the sidewalk is the bed.
To earn some cash,
we pick up
the empties and the scraps.
No status, no class, we’re inferior by caste,
working down the drain with suffering and pain.
Underpaid, underage, bonded helpless and muted slaves.
We’re the statistics for discussion and debate,
agenda for conferences, data for references,
stories for journalists, a challenge for writers and artists.
We’re an assignment for researchers and experts,
appraising our grades, analyzing our fate,
from national to international poverty-line,
from below to above-poverty-line.
Covering these lines are the lofty goals,
we have only empty bowls.
(Promod Puri, is a novice poet, a veteran journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions).