(Thinking of Mumbai)


In the city’s heart –
Where I come from:
It is a human – inhuman settlement.
There is no isolation for it –
From disease or death.
An impatient hand of destiny,
Engaged in curses,
Cut it up with a scalpel.
It is the human settlement gone bloody,
Horribly wrong.
Either side of it precedes hell –
No matter which way you cross.
Hundreds, thousands of men, women, children live
And die here for life’s sake.


O! The sober and merry!
I have no conscience left.


A toast to poverty.
No food to eat, never mind.
No drinking water, never mind.
They have the solace of numbers!
Clink the glass!
Say, Cheers!
Each day exactly,
Though my eyes are pinned on the slum:
I am turning to stone looking at it.
I have lost my mind thinking about it.
O! The sober and merry!
Now I have lost my conscience.


Crowd among crowds,
Gazes at the slum.
Suffering links the slum-dwellers –
Umbilically with its ongoing assaults.
A toast to poverty.
No dreams to dream, never mind.
Clink the glass.
Say, Cheers!
But wait. Wait!
Just wait.
I see the slum in my wine glass!
People are standing outside their shanties,
Looking very tired and unloved.
Smash My Glass… smash it into pieces.


O! The sober and merry!
I have no conscience left.





Geeta Chhabra


From the book: No Journey Ends by Geeta Chhabra

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