Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kolkata's Rickshaw-puller, Yet Again~

Aslam, the septuagenarian
   a rickshaw puller in Kolkata,
Keeps pulling a legacy
Within the boundaries
    of human existence.
His chiming bell attracts attention
of people, worldwide-
-the so called ‘custodians’
            of the human rights,
who have indelible tales of
    inhumanity and cruelty to tell.

Unmindful of all sobriquets bestowed
Aslam runs and runs…
Two squiggly legs keep whirling,
Escalating the tempo 
   of the two wooden wheels behind him.
Boy oh boy, if only I could run once like him!
The devastating speed charms; infuses verve;
       yet sinks my heart.

But then,
It is no dream,
For a father of six hungry children
Who seldom gets one square meal a day,
 Composing, relaxing like the rest of us!
Regardless of neglect, I think,
He is a 'citizen' in the road...
Stealthily slipping, yet preserving
  the susurrus of a British heritage
the hand-pulled rickshaw-
      Kolkata’s colonial treasure
through clinks of time.

Foreign tourists identify Kolkata City with the Victoria Memorial, the Howrah Bridge and these hand-pulled rickshaws. They regard it as a cultural icon of the city, irrespective of the stories of inhumanity and cruelty that social critics and activists have attributed to the city’s unbarred use of man-powered rickshaws...