Between City and City

Between city and city are dilapidated buildings
of forgotten villages whose fractured boundary walls
are smattered with political adverts and protest graffiti.
There are fields of sugarcane and rice where turbaned men
with cadaverous faces fix their eyes on an earth they till
to repay loans that were never meant to be taken.
Somewhere between city and city, where crops fail
and children starve, one more farmer has decided to die.

Between city and city are uncertain towns of semi-darkness
with joyless men confined to their little shops for the rest
of their lives and women discovering breathing space
in late afternoon gossips. The children play in slow-motion.
Then there are days when the countryside is suddenly awoken
to tumultuous bells of political speeches of how life will truly
get better after another season of elections is over.

Between city and city are people of religious importance
and little kingdoms created in rustic seclusion,
where those who committed the folly of being born low
are not allowed to believe they matter. And out of bloodstained
thickets, the young diehards rise to taunt chief ministers and laugh
at the rituals of promises they failed to keep one more time.
But when the sad music of traded insults and gunfire handshakes
is over, drunk villagers dance to film songs again and young girls
become pregnant again to forget the life of repeated unhappy endings.

Between city and city are incomplete highways where trucks overturn
and speeding night buses with groggy-eyed passengers puking
through windows. But on roadside shacks where truckers rest,
a disease is transmitted to families determined to end their poverty.
The government then write statistics and the NGOs rush to help.
But the people of the highway do not believe them anymore. We
have been poor for too long, they say. Do not pretend you care.
Go home to your wood-panelled mansions and digitalized offices.
We are only trying to earn a living.

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