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All under a Banyan

by Sangavi Deepthi
(Chennai, Tamilnadu, India)

The grandma scrapes her burnt dreams
from the empty pots. The sweat of so
many loud yesterday's linger in her faded
maroon saree, she claims its still red like
her courage. She doesn't bother to tuck
her unkempt words that goes unheard.
So she makes it into a pleading song in her
shrill voice. Poetry should be everyone's
second language but her's felt like a
heartfelt prayer that summons some light
to find their shaky smiles.

The two barely clad toddlers scurry in their
fabricated freedom, the tang of life lost
somewhere in the dirt of their fingernails.
Like the shy winter sun, their eyes ask for
'more' the moment is quickly rescued by
their unsullied innocence that seem to say
'I measure myself with your judgements'.
I feel so many frozen pieces in me melt.

The beast like driller drinks more life from
the ground. The shiver runs under my feet,
on their exhausted plastic roofs, unleashing
a few shocked birds, rattling the hungry
vessels and pausing their muddled searches.
But the mother, I assumed from
a foreteller's nonchalance on her face
carried on setting the fence sheets around
her home. The fence read 'building futures'
Her calm, an open book like the earth's core.

Then the petite young girl hurries in with
a pregnant plastic pot as though it was the
only treasure she owned. Her threadbare
blue skirt and beige blouse did less to hide
her alluring beauty. Fragile and beautiful
like a new calf. She ties up her dusty mane
into a bun and wipes off the white froth on
her lips. No it isn't milk but an indigestion,
as she was being gorged by yesterday's
devils. She smiles at me for understanding.
'Your eyes are full of language' I wish to warn her.

As though she heard, she slips into a soulless shirt,
the empty garbage sack pinned to her like a monogram.

He must be the father, I surmise. Leashed
to a cheap red earphone, dazed by the
many vagaries of life, he glances now
and then affectionately at his caged kingdom.
I look up at the barren banyan tree,
stripped off of its family, still managing to
host a few wistful nests. The family and the tree
look like conjoined twins.
Forgotten... but never lost,
because you know, trees have no elsewhere.


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