Bearing Witness

From the dark wooden staircase worn down under five generations of footfall
from Teen Batti, Saat rasta, Kaala Chowki, Lalbaug and Shivdi
to the ST bus depots at Bombay Central, Parel and Dadar running
extra services during April, September and October

eager happy families, kids, aji and atya with brass boxes
full of laddoos and rexine bags with zippers that do not work
carrying little gifts of  childrens’ clothes and plastic toys that will
put stars in the eyes of nieces and nephews.

ST buses loaded with bodies aching for rest for quiet
and for tight embraces of brothers that stayed behind
or went back defeated by the city of bright lights.

Kin they must necessarily invite
to every function in the family – happy or sad
if they don’t feed them on the thirteenth day of the funeral
who else is there when they themselves pass?

Of all the attachments the city breeds is there one as strong
and compelling as the call of that red soil
barren, meager, dry and infertile, yes,
yet his very own.

© anjali purohit 2013

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