All’s Well That Ends Well

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My mother is a raging optimist

At times it seems rather unrealistic to me

You see I am an enraged realist

A word that eludes her dictionary

Why else would she ask

Why my poetry

Reeks of emotions and realities

Swept into the recesses

Of minds

Frightened by their existence

And their intensity

Well, I say nothing; nothing at all

If I say poetry comes from the heart

She’d be heartbroken

She’d believe mine to be

An eternally aggrieved constitution

If I say poetry speaks only the truth

She’d be perplexed and horrified

She’d believe my lenses to be

Filtered of all joys in life

If I say my poetry portrays stark emotions

She’d likely misconstrue the remark

She’d stare deep into my eyes to find

The glowing wit and the undead spark

So I say nothing; for there is nothing to

One day perhaps she’d see what I do;

A world shrouded in the dark

With streaks of light pouring in

The hunger, the rags, the loan sharks

With generous dollars sneaking in

The tragedies and their tender scars

With hope and healing seeping in

One day she’d see

That my poetry

Isn’t as cynical or resigned;

It is truthful, it is impassioned

It is serene, it is sublime

It talks of the past, the present, the future

It travels through all the good and bad times

It tells you without mercy, by and by exactly

How cruel sometimes the world can be

But it tells you there is hope yet

It tells you not to despair

That there will be pain yes,

But good cheer will reign again

For there will be death of the bygones

If a new lease of life must be spelled

So yeah, it tells you Shakespeare was right

To say that all’s well that ends well

 – Akanksha Gupta (poem only)

THE VOICE OF HUNGER

This post is a part of the blog-a-thon by World Vision India on Youth Ki Awaaz

Do you know what hunger feels like? Do you know what it is like to work without food and sleep on an empty belly? Do you know how those millions of people who struggle for every single morsel every single day of their lives feel? Through the story of a young girl, travel through the bitter palpable taste that shocks your senses into numbness:
 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT (FOR POETRY)

Behind the curtain of brackish brown hair
Caked with the breath of a dying hope
Meshed like the wires of a broken basket
That I sometimes see that lady carry
Across the street, filled with apples
And apricots and cherries and all things good,
My mouth salivates,
But then,
I wonder how I must look in the mirror;
No, that lady didn’t bring that basket for me
Why would she?
I chant it like a broken tape recorder
She doesn’t know me and if she ever looks at me,
All she must see is one of those nameless faces
In the crowd, whose eyes peek out
In longing, like the fruits from her basket,
And she sneers; does she think we are thieves?
Well, she’s not wrong, we might as well be, if –
If we could get away with it, and as such
There’s been a thought or two in my head
That consumes my entire being
Whenever that eternal gnawing in my belly
Whenever that dull ache, whenever that stubborn throb,
Once in a while, becomes a mute struggle
Of not keeling over with pain,
I persevere, I persevere, I persevere
Nothing can be done;
I want to cry, but you can’t hear,
My voice doesn’t touch an apathetic ear
The tears have dried; my heart is hollow,
And I’m still standing hunched over a puddle of blood
Clutching my big bloated belly with bony hands
That are still bleeding from last week’s labor,
And now my mouth is also shining red,
I wonder how I must look in the mirror;
I am burning up,
My breaths are shallow, my head is dizzy
But I – I’m still working
So that I can at least fill my belly
With a stale bread at night
You see, I’ve stopped stealing half-eaten dinners
From the bins across the street
Last time my friend did it she slept
And in her sleep
She tossed, she frothed and she bled
And she never woke up again
Sometimes I wish I had been in her stead
Because I can’t bear this hopelessness alone
I can’t return from this godforsaken shantytown
Languishing in the heart of a merciless city
To my home in the village with my parents
Who a few years ago had sold me, the seventh daughter
To some company, for a few thousand dollars
And I – I forgave them, you would too if you saw their
Skeletal ghostly frames, hungry stomachs and lifeless eyes
Hanging onto this earth by a stroke of misfortune,
You see, we the poor, we the hungry, we the malnourished
We the society’s dregs who are kicked daily by the mercenaries
By the law, by the war, by our poverty, by your apathy,
We, who barely survive by the day at the precipice
And barely get sleep with this empty belly at night,
We either live like the roaches or die like the moths
We are as desensitized to life as we are to death
Perhaps that’s why I can admit that today –
Today, I’m feeling a little too drained
And dizzy and drowsy
I’m still burning up like the sun
And I think I might just pick up something from the bin
For I think this is my last breath, yes tonight,
I won’t wake up again, and I – I’d like it
Of my own volition, of my own choice, of my own desire
I’d like to be able to choose to die
As I couldn’t choose to live

-Akanksha Gupta