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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 28, New Delhi June 30, 2018

Meal at Dalit’s Home

Saturday 30 June 2018


The entire village was agog:

an important person coming to dine

at the house of a poor Dalit.

There was big commotion rising

from slow pitch to high crescendo.

A spurt of activity followed:

the lane in front of the house cleaned,

watered; garbage removed;

a portable generator installed 

to provide power uninterrupted.

Furniture, carpet, electric fans

 were all arranged to make

the dining space comfortable

for the honoured guest

to savour food along with the Dalit.

The D-day came; the big man arrived.

Garlanded in the flash light

of the clicking cameras, he stepped

into the house, sat on the mat,

shared meal served by the host.

The event came to an end.

The guest left; the motorcade departed,

leaving a feeling of afterglow

that evaporated with the dying day.

Silence deepening fell on the deserted lane.

The cynical query about who paid

for the elaborate arrangements

may be brushed aside as pettifogging.

But discerning eyes raised a question:

who was ‘liberated’— the ‘host’ or the ‘guest’?

Ajit Kumar Das

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