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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 1, December 22, 2012 [Annual 2012]

The Shrine

Wednesday 2 January 2013

The shrine was made of gold
Bedecked with jewels
And in the altar
Lay the redolent image,
When they came
For the final pillage.
First there was a whimper,
Then a cry,
Finally a crescendo rose
To do or die.
Outside the people
Wondered what were
These endless meetings
Those secret confabulations;
Was it a question
To be or not to be,
When infact he could have
Existed anywhere
Or for that matter, everywhere?
They hoped rationality would reign.
But they brayed,
No one can refute,
There is now a dispute;
A golden threshold
Has been crossed,
The very lakshman rekha as it were.
Meanwhile the poor
Sat outside the temple
In a patient line,
Begging for alms,
So they could light
A chullah and eat, just
Feed their starving children;
It was an extraordinary feat
To stay hungry and quiet
For so long.
Inside the temple
The fragrance did subside,
The flowers died,
There was so much brouhaha
Over an idol
Called Ram Lalla.
Meanwhile they did
Something so fine,
They lowered the line,
The one that defines poverty
And said;
You are self sufficient and rich
Do not try to abridge
Our identityin the world.
You beggars are a scourge,
Get moving,
The world is coming to see us
At the commonwealth hub,
At the high table of the nuclear club.
You who walk
with bowls in tatters
Are a shame,
To go nuclear is our tryst with destiny;
Do not this hour recount your poverty,
But join the festivity.
Wrap your leprous stubs,
Hide your scabs,
Keep quiet about just a few scams.
Bend your knees in supplication
We have joined the global destination.
And the poor
Just shivered,
At the seeming
Justice of man,
Over the justice
Of God.
May 14, 2012
Sagari Chhabra
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