The Rickshaw-Wala

Days without end and weary feet without rest. The rickshaw-puller pulls the weight of a city indifferent to his plight.

At every sunrise, the rickshaw-wala
mounts his tattered pedestal,
and slowly pedals away to another
fight to be lost
in the city. A crow cries
hoarsely – he doesn’t
look back.

The wife watches through
the thatched leaves, and murmurs
a prayer to the Elephant God.
She hopes the turban will stave off rain,
heatstrokes and evil spirits.
A child bawls inside –
she hurries to pacify its hunger with
stale rice and empty lies.

A faithful street dog, in the meanwhile,
follows the breadwinner down
garbage-strewn lanes,
wincing in the cold. A sudden volley
of golden rays illuminates a hardened face
worn out with age and pain,
like the soles of his sandals. He wonders,
as his feet go through the familiar
strokes, if he would earn enough to
feed his family at night.

Not every dawn brings forth
a new day.

***

Madras Courier originally ran as a broadsheet with a poetry section. It was a time when readers felt comfortable sharing glimpses of their lives through verse. If you too have a poem you’d like to submit, do email us at editor@madrascourier.com.

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