Who are in charge of the destiny of our boys?
nobody, they make their own destiny.
When I get a job, my worries for tomorrows’ dal and rice gone
and I manage time to ponder over our boys.
At first I’m pained to see them lolling under our pakur tree
dawn, noon, afternoon, evening the same boys, the same talks.
then one day I buy a house in town and leave my village
and my visits to village become irregular—
a day in a month, a day in a half year, a day in a year.
And a decade passed, today I find our pakur tree
empty as a nameless river bed crematorium .
Where are the boys I ask some old faces?
and I am delighted with their inputs–
our boys are school dropouts and pass-graduates,
and their parents are poor peasants or landless labourers
and believe me, never had I a clues to their future.
But today I’m happy to survey the scene
our boys have outsmarted me, made me fool–
some are black hands at mushrooming garages,
some are masons in Kerala and Bengaluru,
some are half-mechanics in Ludhiana motor rewinding factories,
and some are local panchayat members, and have built
spotless white houses, gates etched with holy signs
some have joined army, and the lesser ones keeping pigeons,
cows, hens, goats, ducks, sheep, etc.
And some sell daily toil to landed heads
some sell vegetables in vans, fish and milk in cycles,
and clothes and plastic pots in cars from door to door.
And some have set up grocery shops, shoe stores, mobile corners
and some are working in brick kilns, some driving cars and
some own battery cars and defeat empty stomachs
and some are mullahs at mosques, priests at temples.
some are party full timers and have earned ways
to make villagers sit and stand by catching their ears
some are electricians, plumbers, carpenters, driers, company agents
selling agricultural, cosmetic products to customized clients
and others in winter spell sell blankets, in hot days sell fans and coolers
in monsoon umbrellas and raincoats and gumboots.
Parties come, parties go, and houses dance with the raving winds
new faces replace the old ones, new names re-inscribed on old walls
defeated flags bite dust or hide in fear or shame
and the winners flutter by in highways and byways.
Yes, our boys swim ashore crossing tumultuous tides,
some drown in the deep, but who cares?
the sun rises and dies, moon waxes and wanes, days and nights
pass with their cyclical lengths unperturbed.
And our boys find ways to breathe,
Yes, some kicked in spines, knifed, shot, driven out of homes at election times
But those who manage to survive no longer loll under our pakur tree.