Wednesday, December 16, 2009


As a tasty morsel I munch
at lunch
in a roadside dhaba,
a gentle tap makes me turn.
An empty plate
I see and a child beggar
to her mouth pointing. Anger
swells. Away! I shoo her;
Can’t she wait?
Can't she see?
I'm eating and very hungry?

A pang of regret
hits as the next bite
finds my mouth.
At her helpless plight,
was it, I lost my cool?
What if she is hungry too?
As pensive mouthfuls I chew,
again that soft blow.
Sensing softness, daring rage,
fearlessly she shows
me, again, her empty plate

I ask her to wait
and she does, patiently,
watching me
as I gulp in silent guilt.
Of vicious kidnappers and
poor, poor parents
images I try to squelch;
my own plate I empty find.
A coin and a belch
emerge. I toss the one I can
into the plate in her hand.

A good deed, I pat me,
full of food and vanity.
I shrug and walk; money
was what she was really after.
Tapping another
she must now be,
I say, and look back to see
that cynical picture.
She still is there shaming me,
tear in eye, plate empty,
my coin shining brightly...

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