Mumbai

A truth I will never forget


 
Two in the morning riding a hornet liveried taxi.

The Tarmac rests from the burden it carries

from sunrise to sunset. 

Lounging on the backseat like a renegade raja

breathing post monsoon atmosphere

laden with indigenous spice.

A human tick sucking the nipple of India’s economic miracle.

Strictly for the benefit of a far away entrepreneur.

 

A red light ahead, the driver stops.

We wait for green in the sleeping city.

A shadow beneath the wall stirs 

merging into a stick insect dressed in rags.

The miracle has passed him by.

A digit-less body supported on a Mango branch

stands at the open window requesting help

in the language of beggars.

His outstretched arms end in fingerless stumps.

 

Wondering how he’ll hold my coins, I fish my pockets.

Green light fills the cab, the driver obeys the rules.

l sit in comfort with a handful of unclaimed rupees

looking back at a miracle of life in the middle of the boulevard.

I’m gifted with a picture that will stay in my eyes all my days.

He’s been there a hundred years and will be there a hundred more.

© Guaj 2021
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critique and comments welcome.
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Bhi

A riveting read. Brought Mumbai alive even at that dead hour. I remember turning the corner past the Taj and straight into a slum, and my partner at that time, nearly fainting at what she saw. A couple of observations: Tarmac does not need capitalisation. Not sure why you chose “renegade mogul”. On the whole they were extremely charitable and cosmopolitan in their courts, except when it came to the Sikhs and their gurus. I would have gone with “renegage rajah” which refers to the local despotic rulers and their blinkered lives. This read awkwardly – “looking back at of… Read more »

Ionicus

Hi Guaj. I got the gist of the poem but I have some reservation about the phraseology employed. The line “His outstretched arms end in fingerless stumps” is a tautology as the beggar’s body as already been described by the alternative adjective ‘digit-less’. No big deal but what I found confusing was the last three lines of the last stanza. “looking back at of survival’s miracle in the middle of the boulevard, gifted with an impression that will stay in my eyes all my days. He’s been there a hundred years and will be there a hundred more.” looking back… Read more »

Yes, it reads much better now. Its meaning was always clear, it only needed a few cosmetic changes. You have to make allowances for the like of us who are not multilingual, The joke about gift/poison would have been more widely appreciated if you had italicised the word and added an explanation at the end.
Anyway thanks for the clarification.

Last edited 4 months ago by ionicus
ChairmanWow

Yes, the poor will always be with us. Reminds me of a scene in Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians which is set in Haiti, only in that scene the money thrown to the legless beggar is taken by stronger neighbors. Great lines and a timeless subject.

Coolhermit

I like this poem – it took me to India even though I’ve never been there – all my children have and a grandson too. I had intended to go to Veranasi this winter but covid scuppered that – so make do with youtube vids of places to see.

I will read more of your work now

Rick.

funnily enough, an Indian bloke turned up at my daughter’s right out of the blue – I was away at the time – and he was the spit of me. And my surname (from a father of whom I’ve but little recollection) is the same as a mega construction company in India – sometimes I wonder….

Rick. 🙂

Griffonner

Unforgattable? Absolutely, and images that will remain with your readers too. Do you wish there was a way to go back in time so that a different ending were possible?

I especially liked your two closing lines. Unfortunately they are a truth that whilst burning a memory in your mind and heart, burns the word ‘disgrace’ into the history and instance of this World.

Thank you for sharing this. I really value it.

Allen

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