Between Happiness and Freedom

“Oh Gangu!

Our body is 70% water and so is the earth.

So, be generous with water.

The slab needs it”, said the contractor with an unnecessary smile.

Why then there wasn’t enough for the land we called ours

The land that we tilled with hopes of emerald crops

That would translate our limited understanding of contentment

Why did we have to witness the loss of a season

The soil that birthed us lying like a corpse with a mouth gaping open

For any amount of life

Why did the money vanish from the only shelter we knew

Starving our little ones who sucked on my emptied breasts

And I shuddered at the thought of the word ‘hunger’

Why did we have to leave behind our home

To settle in this urban mess

To build shanties and watch someone else’s concrete dream take shape

Why did our children have to sleep on the sand

Their dark skin dried up with an excess sun

The cement dust becoming their second skin

The noses never running dry of phlegm or of smells from the nearby Iyengar Bakery

Why did our owners think that the wages that they gave us was more than needed

It took more than a hundred rupee note to get a meal

Only to keep the mind convinced

A meal that lacked both nutrition and taste in equal portions

“Oh Gangu!

Here wear this shirt on your saree

It is easy to conceal your belly this way”, says he while assigning her tasks.

Hide the scars that your womb has worn,

balance the bricks like the way you carried water in your village,

your hands will have altered bruises, hold your memories in your nostrils

While you still shut your eyes to think of the last time

he looked at you in your old house with a well in which he dissolved

Before it was decided to waive off the farmers’ loans

                                                                               ~Poornima Laxmeshwar

                                                                               Bengaluru, India

One Comment

  1. Tapan Mozumdar

    The noses never running dry of the phlegm or the smell from the Iyengar Bakery – loved the line

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