Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Face

A poem close to my heart.The incident and the 'protagonist' are REAL.
I am grateful to The Face for disturbing the slumber of feelings that I fear,would have otherwise died,completely.


A busy Kolkata street
The mad hustle of a Monday morn,
The scurrying of a thousand feet
In a city of concrete
Automobiles conduct a cacophony of horns.
With deadlines to meet,
Jobs to keep,
No one notices,a face so forlorn.

‘Comfortably numb’ in the cocoon of my car
Cut from the world by the darkened glass,
I was in some land afar.
A tap on the window interrupted my reverie,
“Didi, would you buy some candy?” was the ardent plea.
I dismissed it, with an indifferent waft of my hand.
The city of joy steels our heart to sorrow,
(Or was it the pericardium I wonder?)
Protecting it from the prick of conscience.
The struggle and sorrow Man faces
Seems to us as mundane.
So it was with him,with his face so forlorn.

He implored, again.
It was more a disgusted appeal of desperation than a plea,
“Didi, take one, PLEASE.”
Something within me stirred
Something that had been rendered dormant by my hedonism.
Was it conscience, or was it humanity??
I looked up, rolled down my window
And came face to face with conscience,
It was his face, a face so forlorn.

He was just a kid,
Not more than three quarters of a score,
His eyes so innocent,
Unable to hide the torment,
Fate had so cruelly inflicted on him.
“How much are they?”I asked
“Fifty paisa each Didi?”,he said,
Much with relief, than enthusiasm.
And I couldn’t help noticing,
The abuse of innocence,
Reflected in the face ,the face so forlorn.

I asked for six , handed him a ten rupee bill,
Asked him to keep the change.
The impassive face lit up,
Like a sudden volcanic outburst,
Not with joy, but indignation.
“Why should I take the change?”,he retorted
I was jolted.
Dignity existed,even in a face so forlorn.

And then, the dam broke .
His face contracted,he broke down.
“My parents are dead,
I have my sisters to take care of,
How many days can we survive with an empty stomach?
I can’t take it anymore.”, he said
Tears streaming down his face.
The face so forlorn.

The light at the signal turned green,
Impatient commuters started honking and cursing.
I sat still, dewy eyed, guilty and ashamed
It is by humans after all that humanity has been maimed.
He took the money I had offered and was gone
But not before slipping in two more candy
Soon, I had left the road and was homeward bound
Yet it was alive in my memory,a face so forlorn.

The city of joy,
Its people boasting of their sensitivity,
Where every person claims to be a proletarian at heart .
Yet, it is here we see the rape of innocence,
Abuse of youth, murder of potential.
And all we do is shake our heads at the hopelessness
Blame it on the system, the establishment, the world
And seeing , yet unseeing carry on with our lives.
Yet everywhere lurks such a face, a face so forlorn.

He owed me six rupees
I owed him much more.
My conscience, or was it my humanity?
From now on, each time I’m deluded by selfishness,
Too blind to see the rampant suffering all around,
His face shall be my beacon of light.
The truth envisaged in his face, a face so forlorn.


Rajarshi said...

This writing by Chandrayee just forces a comment...and a rather good one too. :-)
It's very true that we need to be hedonistic in life to make something out of ourselves...to bring a smile to our parents' faces who endeavour for us..et al.

We keep on complaining about the fact that we don't have good shoes to wear until we go and meet persons with no feet at all..!

So..to take that face up..the forlorn face..as the "beacon of light" is definitely praiseworthy!

But again..as we all know..it's one thing to make a promise..another to not break it.

cheers girl! you write really well. :-)

Twisha Mukherjee said...

You know what, I give pennies to beggars almost regularly, I even bought ice-creams and Lays packets to a few dirty kids back during the pujas, I gave a ten rupee note to a woman today because my coins' pouch was empty. Yet, I don't know whether I do the right thing. I just manage to satisfy myself that if I'm wasting a 100 bucks watching a crap movie at a multiplex, I have no reason to spare a few alms to beggars. Yet, I don't know whether I do the right thing. It so happens, that I'd read something in class V that a man kidnapped well-to-do children, maimed them, disguised them by smearing dirt an colouring cheeks, and them set them out on streets to beg for money. Henceforth I suspect that every beggar on the street is a fraud. I don't know what I'm trying to tell, but it's what i feel. What i do in real life, is a stark contrast, however.

Twisha Mukherjee said...

lots of typing errors, forgive them.


Well,I guess that is your opinion.I too have often doubted about the 'authenticity' of beggars.I am often irritated to the brink by them,when the virtually climb on to me.
But I don't know why,at a completely personal level this particular boy,seemed to portray the brutal truth.
I guess I wouldn't know whether he is a fraud or not,I'd like to believe he is not but honestly it wouldn't make a difference,for I am glad he aroused certain strong feelings and questions which would have otherwise been forgotten.

Thanks for commenting :-)

Hypnostashia said...

touchin....true that their morality can hardly b trusted....but still it pains sumtimes 2 c them in tatters n dirt....living on an empty stomach while v in luxury cars n stylish attires....blessed with the power 2 indulge......