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 my boys
initially 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 my village become irregular—
a day in a month, a day in a half year, a day in a year.
a decade passed, and today I find our pakur tree
empty as a nameless river bed crematorium .
where are the boys I ask myself and some old faces?
and I am delighted with their inputs
my boys are school dropouts and undergraduates
their parents are poor peasants or landless labours
and believe me I have no clues about their future
but today I’m happy to survey the scene
my boys have outsmarted me, made me fool
some are black hands at mushrooming garages
by both sides of our dusty, crooked lifeline
some are masons in Kerala and Bengaluru
some are half-mechanics in Ludhiana motor rewinding factories
some are local panchayat members, and have built
spotless white houses, gates etched with holy signs
some have joined army, the lesser ones keeping pigeons,
cows, hens, goats, ducks, sheep
some sell daily toil to landed hands
some sell vegetables in vans, fish and milk in cycles,
and clothes and plastics in cars from door to door
some have set up grocery shops, shoe stores, mobile corners
some are working in brick clines, some driving cars and
some own battery cars and defeat empty stomachs
some are mullahs at mosques, priests at temples
some are party full timers and have earned ways
to make peasants sit and stand by catching their ears
some are electricians, plumbers, carpenters, driers, company agents
selling agricultural, cosmetic products to customized clients
some in winter spell sell blankets, in hot days sell fans and coolers
in monsoon umbrellas and raincoats and gumboots.
parties come, parties go, and institutions dance with the winds
new faces replace the old ones, new names reinscribed on the walls
defeated flags bite dust or hide in fear or shame
the winners dazzle the highways, city streets and village paths.
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.
our boys find OWN WAYS to breathe and survive,
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.