The Urchin

At the crack of dawn,
He breaks loose from his own embrace —
Surfacing lifeless, like death walking
From its mottled grave.

Half-clad in patches of rags,
Bare-footed and blistered,
His duffed lot, he drags
Up to the temple gates.

The little boy with big eyes,
Weeps inside,
Showing off his poverty
With a happy face.

Half-built, smaller than his normal frame,
He established his gender —
When, at five or seven,
He gave himself his own name.

Dud and discarded,
Both by his Maker and Fate,
The little boy, with big eyes, star-gazes in day-light!
Waiting near those temple gates.

Full-bodied women, and pot-bellied men,
Shun and avoid the wretched urchin’s gaze.
Obsessed with miracles, trade-testing the Divine,
They come as carriers of bribes,
With bountiful baskets,
Trimmed with tinsled lace.

Unlike them, the little luckless boy,
Has not come to demand or even pray.
Just a few morsels of grain will console
His hopes and strength, to stand and wait
Near those temple gates.


Geeta Chhabra

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