Thinking of the poor on the road...
Frozen Stiff on a Wintry NightThey huddled together in the street
As the temperature dipped down to minus two degrees,
Sharing a small quilt with big holes,
They hugged each other to beat the cold.
The puddles were beginning to flake over with ice,
As their teeth chattered; bones rattled with fright,
Lest, they might loose their lives that night.
The fire they had lighted with gathered wood
During the day, after their daily grind,
Had long died down and the embers were cold-
Their own body-warmth was their only succour.
With semblance of comfort, more moral than true,
They somehow managed to doze off…
Only wake up to find that one of them
Had slept eternally never to wake up…
While in Sirinagar, up in the North,
The Dal Lake has frozen with wintry frost.
The thin sheet of ice formed is just enough
To stall the Shikaras, the exotic boats,
From plying to and fro, in this tourist spot-
The only means of livelihood of the impoverished lot.
In the war-torn, terrorist-ridden state of Kashmir,
Who have forgotten to embroider lovely shawls;
To carve the intricate filigree-screens
Off the dainty wood of walnut and rose…
Who are too disturbed to find the peace
Of mind and soul for creative streaks,
They carry in their blood for centuries;
To sit down by the fire in the long wintry nights
And embroider and carve, till they blinden their eyes,
Intricate designs by the warmth of the hearth
Or with Kangrhee, the earthen pot,
filled with embers, hidden close to the heart
inside their ‘Firans’ to keep them warm-
the cause of high incidence of cancer the bowels…
With bullets whistling and shrapnels flying around,
With arson and shooting and exploding of bombs,
Clinging to each other for some comfort and warmth,
Who can think of creativity and fine artistic forms?
With every sheet of ice, they are with misery wrought…
Cold wave in Delhi, rang in the New Year-
The coldest in the country in last fifty years-
Has taken the toll of ninety odd lives,
In just four days, as the poor struggle to survive…
There are one Lakh homeless in the capital city,
While night shelters are enough for 20,000 only;
The Municipal Corporation has shut down many
To make room for ware-houses and shopping malls;
While the one for women was shut down completely,
Because, they tend to bring along their belongings,
But, the shelter was meant for the ‘night only’!
So, the poor of India freeze to death
For the lack of shelter and a warm bed
While the ‘Richest Man in the World’-
An Indian to boot-
Sleeps in the comfort of his heated suite…
India is supposed to be ‘shinning bright’!
Is progressing fast and is ‘upward mobile’!
While poorest of the poor share a bleak plight…
Author: Zoya Zaidi
Aligarh (UP), India
Copyright ©: Zoya Zaidi
Image: People warm thier hands by fire on the unusually cold night in the North-Indian city of Lucknow.
Note: An unusually fierce cold snap has killed 9 in northern India over the past 2 days, bringing the death toll from weeks of chilly weather to 90. Thousands of homeless people have virtually no protection from biting winds and sub-zero temperatures. State governments in India have built night shelters for some of the homeless, but they cannot accommodate all those who need them. NDTV India
Poetry by Zoya Zaidi
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Written on 2008-01-06 at 07:24
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