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Mumbai diaries- Janaki -One among the millions

I wrote this poem based on a girl I saw on one of my morning walks. Mumbai – a city of stark contrasts has the rich staying on one side of the street and the poor on the other. No matter how affluent one is in Mumbai, there’s no escaping the harsh realities – the crowded shanties, impoverished children and the homeless and the destitute. For the underprivileged, they live in complete awareness of the ‘good’ life as house-help, drivers and dog-walkers.

Some of their children dream and achieve their dreams while others are lured into the rich man’s world, only to find out that its not a way to get out of the rut but to stay in the rut, perpetually- in awe of the ‘financially blessed.’

Janaki is a poem that talks of those who dare to dream and strive to achieve it.


Janaki, she stands on the street

Bare-feet

Wearing her brown checkered pinafore

In front of her father’s dinky grocery store

Untangling her tangled hair

Oiled it falls in waves, strands lie on the broken stair

She sees the tall buildings – the ones with the blue domes

At the end of her street, are the rich men’s homes

With marble tiles and porcelain cups

Crystal vases and white, fluffy pups

Her friends’ go there

Those that dropped school; lured by the snare –

To walk the dogs and scrub the floors

Amuse the kids behind teak wooden doors

To scour the pans and polish the glass

With calloused feet and bent backs they return- Alas!

Janaki too dreams of the rich men’s homes

The tall buildings with the blue domes

And so she studies late into the night

Under the yellow incandescent light

Her fingers twirled around her toes

Her eyelids, unflinching, over her nose

Her dream looks on; looming tall in the dark-
The white stone building, the moonlit pool and the sleeping park.

Janaki

P.C. from the net – used for illustrative purpose only

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18 Comments »

  1. This is incredibly poignant, Smitha. Life in South Africa is similar. The poor are very visible and are very aware of their lot and that of the more affluent people. It is hard to uplift people as poverty often traps them in a cycle, especially when the girls fall pregnant at very young ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Robbie. SA sounds so much like India. Here girls fall trap to early marriages and the temptation to take an odd job, rather than complete their education. With all that the government does, there’s still a long way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful poem, heartbreaking but the picture of that girl dirt poor but writing…that´s encouraging.
    I have quite a lot of followers from India, and a friend from India that I met her in wordpress and she came to visit Spain so I do know that there are the rich and poor mostly. No middle class. This friend of mine is now in the U.S. living the dream with her husband. Arranged marriage ofcourse, I still don’t get that part.

    Like

    • Yes, it is heartbreaking and yet encouraging to see that there are children who will work hard irrespective of their situation and try to get out of Thank you for visiting the blog and reading this poem. It’s good to know that you have both followers and friends from India. We do have a huge middle class here in India. In fact we have the lower middle class and the upper middle class too. Again, because of public schools and reservation of seats in college, it is possible for a person to move out of his class and work upwards. The arranged bit of-course is difficult to fathom I understand :). And while it has changed, it still is a way of life for the majority of the people here. You must visit India. I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing the country in real.

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      • I´m not sure if my comment pissed you off, if it did I´m sor ry, just talking what this friend told me about there.
        So now goes the crazy priest! If I go to India I would be in jail the first day, you can´t get drunk, drive in a traffic that who know who is the lane boy, and then probably I´d get hungry and eat a cow which I know is sacred to you. Or at least to Kruti( my friend) Nice name by the way as well as yours.
        Love ya, have a great Sunday…..and Monday and…love ya

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your comment did not piss me off. So rest assured. I’m not sure what your friend told you or what you understood. I was trying to help you with the facts, that’s all- about the existence of the middle class. And people do have beef here but you can’t just go around attacking animals as I’m sure you can’t in any part of the world. And I thought drunk driving was an offence in any part of the world. Is it not?
          You too have a great Sunday 🙂 And thank you for following my blog. I hope you enjoy reading my posts.

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