I got into a train today
Why do we romanticize the middle class?
I’d forgetten the smell of shit
The fleeting visage of poverty
And that Railway tracks are garbage dumps, spittoons, open latrines.
That the vinca rosa bush growing on the edge of a fermented gutter
Didn’t make a difference.
The people in the platform, the sintex tanks, rain-stained buildings with dark windows;
The sun-bleached piles of brittle plastic
The snatches of life we saw through voyeuristic windows
Had no less despair
Than that of the two women screaming at each other
inside the 2nd class ladies dabba.
Vocal cords bursting, not letting go
Not letting go, not letting go.
Directing rage, noserings flashing
Even as they get off the train.
Who’s hungry, who’s tired, who will carry the ringing words back home?
Stall owners, earringvendors childlabourers, platformcampers beggars, samaritans, citizens.
People people people. Tired empty people.
How much more will it multiply?
The dirt outside, the dirt inside.
Then I got out of the train.

~ (c) Vinitha, April 19 (nineteen days of writing poetry/ phew!)