By Sunil Sharma
A wintry evening
The forlorn December evening descends stealthily
On the grey town, like the young Indian widow
Standing on the open roof and staring at nothing for hours,
And now – climbing down silently
The twisted staircase with her wash-load,
To the courtyard with a Tulsi in the corner
And a Neem tree in the middle of the rustic house,
Solitary and lonely, unsure and tentative
She walks, the withered young lass,
Afraid of disturbing others; cursed and ignored by her own.
The December evening descends quietly on the little town
That has smog everywhere due to the increased cars and bikes,
Spreading its cold gloom fast on
The empty rooftops where knitting and chatting women sat a while ago, but left due to dark,
And crowded screaming streets, where everybody is in a rush to reach home before the serials start.
The early December evening is like a gloomy girl-child,
Separated (Or, abandoned?) cruelly from her poor parents
In a bustling rural festival,
There she sits on the dusty step of a shut shop,
Sad and silent, matted brown hair and torn frock,
With big tears dried up on her dark thin visage.
In the mud and grime, buffeted by the driving rains,
In the crawl-into plastic-mud shelters built on then the soggy ground,
Live the cluster of workers, facing every second their collective symbol of work –
The high-rise – fast coming up on a piece of prime plot in the Mumbai suburb;
Their improvised hovels, a stark contrast to these looming structures around,
Taunting these artistes of concrete-n-glass with deft hands and arms on sculpted bodies
Glistening with sweat and dust;
These modern pieces of architecture and design sold in glossy ads to the aspiring middle class
The looming towers, defiant and rude, piercing a jagged skyline, already crowded,
Grim symbols of their estranged labour
That has got a brand equity and heavy price-band
Decided solely by the developers,
But got no real connection with
The invisible labour collected from varied corners
Of the dead villages across India.
Sunil Sharma is a senior academic and a widely-published writer from Mumbai, India. He has already published 16 books: five collections of poetry, two of short fiction, one novel; a critical study of the novel and seven joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award, 2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.
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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Women’s Writing from North East India’, edited by Dr. Namrata Pathak, NEHU, Shillong, India.