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During the lockdown, we had a humanitarian crisis of sorts, when thousands of daily wage workers, while we were safe with our privileges. Now that they might be back, are we going to be fair?
Sitting on heaps of essentials
In the castle of my privileges.
Feeling blessed every moment,
Locked in with loved ones,
I ask myself,
Is this even a lockdown?
I keep ranting about.
A swipe away from my refills,
A tweet away from firing someone for a delay,
A call away from my doctor,
A zoom away from a friend’s birthday party,
A helpline number away from my therapy,
A video call away from my loved ones,
A YouTube video away from that perfect cake recipe,
An Instagram post away from celebrating my vanity.
Lounging in nicely designed rooms,
Still driving each other up,
Our matt finished wall-papers.
For the proverbial ‘lack of space’,
And getting on each other nerves.
I talk of fear and anxiety,
Of losing my sanity,
For I’m a zillion miles away,
From the real darkness,
Of this contagion and it’s gravity.
How big is this divide?
Our inflated dreams,
Their deflated reality.
A few miles away,
Queues of hungry stomachs,
Specified distance apart,
Sans roof sans rent,
Depending on some kind souls,
For their next morsel.
Still a few more miles away,
Flocks of feet,
Walking hundreds of miles,
To be with loved ones.
Fearing they’ll otherwise,
Become another number,
In this huge statistics,
Of recovered and deceased.
Statistics that diligently gets updated,
Every few hours,
While promises made at 8 pm,
Will trickle down through,
Celebrated stimulus packages.
God knows when?
A nation that wants to help,
But doesn’t have data they say.
And here is a sea of humanity,
Walking, cycling, crawling across states,
Clutching on to their Aadhar, the voter and ration cards,
Still believing in them as their only ray of hope.
It took us just few days,
Into this contagion,
To dub those,
Who helped build our homes,
Homes in which we are today safely cocooned,
Homes from which we are still,
Weaving skyscrapers of hopes.
The housing complexes we stroll freely in,
Well-manicured lawns that we are crying hoarse,
Why we are prohibited from using?
It was these so-called migrants,
Who laid the first bricks,
And lived for months and years,
Cooped up in 8-8 feet makeshift rooms,
With scores of others,
With rusting iron sheets in the name of walls,
Building brick by brick,
The towers of our dreams.
They managed the routines of our homes,
While we stepped out to conquer the world.
Looked after our kids,
While we amassed fortunes for their futures,
Slogged to survive one day at a time,
While we hoarded for our seven generations.
Those who cooked our feasts,
Build products in our factories.
Laid our roads, our bridges.
Ensured sanitation and house/keeping,
Consumer goods or hospitality,
Were the spine of all industry,
Today limping with their spines broken,
By the classist chaos of calamities.
Had heard of no-man’s land,
We are a nation today of no-land’s people.
The faces of this human tragedy.
Migrants we call them,
Now sounds like a cuss word.
For, one state takes forever to decide,
They can stay or finally leave?
The other deemed their own,
Decides not to receive.
Yet another decides they cannot and must not be relieved.
Suddenly they aren’t the most sought after,
For there isn’t an election for long in sight.
We have mastered the art of making people,
Refugees on their own land.
I sleep like a dead woman,
After mopping three little rooms of vitrified tiles.
But in my head I’m asking,
Why they slept on rail tracks?
Why they did not wait?
Why the audacity to walk,
Even after those 8 pm promises?
My grandmother told stories all her life.
Stories only of that one displacement,
Stories of the mares and mules,
The fortunes and fate they left behind,
Stories of neighbours she had lived with half her life.
Stories of why one of her sons lost his mind.
Stories of why another went against the tide.
We sigh when we look at black and white images,
Of the biggest tragedy of the lives of our forefathers.
Decades later, still chronicling first hand narratives,
For our oral history records.
But ironically making peace in the present,
With a tragic displacement,
Happening in front of our eyes.
Of those whose presence meant votes,
Whose absence will mean chores.
Whose going away will mean replacement.
Stay who must,
To save the builder’s, the capitalist’s businesses.
Why they chose to walk?
With pregnant ladies, infants and toddlers?
Because they had no hope,
Because they had nothing to hold on too.
Because they also foresaw the rains,
That you and me are so yearning for,
To give us respite from our 100 degrsss Fahrenheit,
In our centrally air conditioned domes.
While I’m dying to pen poems,
When those first droplets kiss the ground
They feared the muck-walk for miles.
They feared what little they can carry now,
That too will be washed away.
For while I’ll forever romanticize the weathers,
Its they and only they,
Who have known the vagaries they bring along.
From contagions to cyclones,
Unleashing selectively their furies.
While they leave the rich ruffled and scared,
They wash away every last thing the poor can hold on to.
Our calamities too are so classist?
First published here.
Image source: YouTube
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