He did not roll heavy rocks powered by MNC’s up the gradient
And watch them roll downhill with the silent glee
Of the prophet, nor did he race on traffic-ridden streets
Clad in black skin and skull mask, spearing verses
For rock-stars to spew forth from behind blinding lights
And dance on two wheels all night.
He was friend and foe to none
But ran a small sidewalk shop all by himself.
A smile was all he had on his crooked face
Bent sideways. And when he smiled his broken teeth
Showed through snow white behind black stubble.
The world ran on big wheels that turned
Sideways like Bhagyaraj’s smile; while he fine-tuned
Carburetors, and spark-plugs, caressed air-filters and oil-seals
With his finer art of management of spares; topped-up engine oils,
Swiped disk-pads and made them sparkle.
Men and machines vibe well like daylight and nightfall.
Prompt as the sun who appeared and disappeared over the sand-hills
Each dawn and each dusk.
The sea lay dark blue under summer sun.
The moon bloomed and shriveled in periodic cycles overhead.
Time sped by on two, three and four wheels uncaring,
Beside the mechanic’s workshop; spanners turned and clicked
Nuts and bolts clattered. Bikes changed appearances, shapes,
And colors like monsoon skies.
One day, he was run over by four hasty wheels.
He was wearing black; the night was the darkest ever,
And even now big wheels keep turning
The world that runs on ever faster tracks; he felt it on the hot asphalt —
How we turn all smiles sideways in our highways —
To maintain our own odd balance —
So very like us who ride day and night on wheels
Indifferent to sun, moon, sea, and rain.
But who is it that smiles all sideways from atop that gradient
Seeing us roll helplessly downhill on wheel-less bikes
In the growing dark, behind the hushed rainbow?