They ostracized you before you were born,
deemed you a thorny weed in the wasteland,
untouchable, unhealthy and unclean,
the crows cawed, and the crickets chirped
when you first breathed,
no Instagram pictures or Facebook status updates
announced your arrival,
all you knew was the bitter cold in a ramshackle hut,
and a mother’s pain of bearing an anathema.
As you grew, you didn’t hear the whistles on the football field
or watch dancers on the television screen;
you didn’t know a father’s hug
or a favorite teacher’s smile.
They insulted you for your dark complexion,
hated you for an identity they gave you,
they bullied you mercilessly, and never let you
into their homes.
They put you to work when you were 15
and the graveyard, and the drainage became
your second home.
All you saw was dirt and ashes,
rats and corpses,
derelict tombs and withered leaves.
Now, old and weak, you cannot support yourself,
and the sight of dawn is like seeing gangrenous boils,
and the glimpse of dusk is like watching vultures scavenge.
But it’s the hours in between that haunt you the most;
you’re too feeble to beg and have to search the trash
for leftovers to eat, while the onlookers despise you more
for being whom they made you out to be.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2020)
Nitin Lalit is a very bored poet who blogs at There Will Come Soft Rains. Please follow him (Yes, he’s begging you for attention.) That’s another aspect of his needy, neurotic personality.