Uprooted and in a strange land.
His dark face, a replica of darkened
alleys at home, where tongues are dried
of hope, kitchen hearth of embers,
crops stunted, springs of life dead.
“It was dead for years” he said.
Seasons pass under baked skies,
Hunt for water ends in obsequies,
Tankers make a pile out of the deprived,
Brackish waves leave the shore caked.
His smoke rings mock at his pain,
a balm to the wounds festering again.
“With kin surviving on toenail,
I am torn away….now in this hotel
toil to anchor the building blocks of life;
I care not for the faces I serve,
verbal abuse or the brimming oven of strife;
What I earn sustains the kin’s nerve
keeps hearth burning, bellies half-empty.”
A distant glow on his inscrutable visage,
a weary orphan stumbling for his footage.
“My mother sees in me a veil of halo,
though my land remains fallow.”
As his words emptied into the falling dusk,
Aswathama’s voice sifted it of the husk.
My tramp put it well."Dost! There it goes,
learning to walk in the land of ghosts.”
PS: Aswathama, a major character in Mahabharata, appears as a commentator here.