The Song for A Homeless Child

It was simply another night at work,
with the usual couple of hour’s rush
at the beginning and near the end of my shift
and an hour’s break within to breathe and smoke.
The break let us descend back on the ground
to have some tea and snacks in groups
beneath the panorama of the open sky
but we must report back in time.
That night during the break as I went down,
I felt the early chill of winter setting in,
(It was the second week of November.)
behind the thinnest veil of fog,
diffused throughout the capital
and by too much light rendered almost invisible.
I longed to get back to my office room,
air-conditioned, cozy and warm
but the fuming cigarette in my hand
held me back. As I looked at it to estimate
just how many puffs it would take
to burn away the rest of it, my shifting gaze
stumbled upon the sight of a sheepish child.
A boy, hardly beyond seven years of age,
walking in the crowd all alone,
with tear streaks drying on his innocent face.
On first look it seemed he was coming right at me,
naked above his waist and his tender skin
coated with a flimsy layer of dust, glazing
against the blinding city lights.
All around the crowd without even looking twice
moved about, as if there was nothing wrong,
as if the child I saw was a mere ghost,
just a hallucination of my weary mind.
It was all too real, I knew, as the boy
came closer on his tiny steps
lost in the cruel maze of life in his thoughts,
his rights to nourishment and care seemed lost as well.
Then he walked by but not before
I had looked deep into his empty eyes,
where only emptiness and nothing lived
in a void almost infinite.
It was a vacuum left behind
by the shock of a fatal birth,
by the hunger through nights and days,
by the recent loss of his home
and all the cruelties of a drifting life since then.
I had an urge to follow him and see
when, where and how the boy would go to sleep
but right then my intruding mobile phone
began to chime with vibration.
I received it and said, “Hello!”
It was my boss to tell me, I was running late.
When I looked up I could see no trace of the child
lost in the dense forest of indifferent crowds
busy with their own emptiness, like me.


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