I wrote this poem based on a girl I saw on one of my morning walks. Mumbai – a city of stark contrasts has the rich staying on one side of the street and the poor on the other. No matter how affluent one is in Mumbai, there’s no escaping the harsh realities – the crowded shanties, impoverished children and the homeless and the destitute. For the underprivileged, they live in complete awareness of the ‘good’ life as house-help, drivers and dog-walkers.
Some of their children dream and achieve their dreams while others are lured into the rich man’s world, only to find out that its not a way to get out of the rut but to stay in the rut, perpetually- in awe of the ‘financially blessed.’
Janaki is a poem that talks of those who dare to dream and strive to achieve it.
Janaki, she stands on the street
Wearing her brown checkered pinafore
In front of her father’s dinky grocery store
Untangling her tangled hair
Oiled it falls in waves, strands lie on the broken stair
She sees the tall buildings – the ones with the blue domes
At the end of her street, are the rich men’s homes
With marble tiles and porcelain cups
Crystal vases and white, fluffy pups
Her friends’ go there
Those that dropped school; lured by the snare –
To walk the dogs and scrub the floors
Amuse the kids behind teak wooden doors
To scour the pans and polish the glass
With calloused feet and bent backs they return- Alas!
Janaki too dreams of the rich men’s homes
The tall buildings with the blue domes
And so she studies late into the night
Under the yellow incandescent light
Her fingers twirled around her toes
Her eyelids, unflinching, over her nose
Her dream looks on; looming tall in the dark-
The white stone building, the moonlit pool and the sleeping park.
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