Urban Dreams - Poem by Kewal Paigankar
The city sings a tune
It dances and gyrates
To the pulse of the multitudes
And a myriad smells and sounds.
There is overpowering energy at work
People moving at speed, hurtling
From all directions.
There is no respite from this
Either during the day or at night.
The noise-makers and the sound weavers
The broadcasters and the wailers
The dust raisers and the polluters;
They are all playing their song
Assailing you without misgivings
Just as you are about to close your eyes.
It is midnight; when the world sleeps.
The metropolis moves
At a snail’s pace;
People scurry with purpose and diligence
Just like ants do.
But there are others ahead of them
And behind them too.
The choking traffic spews fumes
Man and motor-car at war
Over an inch of space, alas vacant no more.
Adversaries and uneasy partners
Trying to reach the end
Of their arduous journey.
Its scarcely credible
But they do; buses and trains too.
What a miracle!
This is living on the edge
Clinging to hope, so precarious
Is the hold on life, a momentary lapse
Can turn you into a corpse.
Immune to fear, you live the dream
Building a niche and a future
Along with a million others
For you, your sons and daughters.
What zest and ambition these denizens have!
Travelling to far corners, in every direction
Leaving at dawn, returning at dusk
Stretching every sinew, toiling like labourers
Clothes drenched in sweat, body aching
But ready for tomorrow again.
These are the hardy optimists
The main players and the winners
The resilient thespians in stellar roles
In the most enduring opera of them all.
In the morning after a downpour
The black crows sit perched
Watching from a vantage point.
Below them the motorcycle beasts
Rev their engines, venting anger
Cutting the hot air around them
With the thrust of a rapier
Sending birds, animals and pedestrians
Running for cover.
There’s a cacophony of noise
Around street corners and main roads.
Trucks, lorries and buses
Join this cavalcade of engulfing sound
That continues unabated
Long after the lights have dimmed.
In this urban dream factory
Vast, sprawling, labyrinthine
You reap what you sow
Carefully nurturing a sapling
Watching it grow into a majestic tree.
Then the crows arrive in numbers
Before being chased away;
They are considered a bad omen
Filled with misfortune and foreboding.
They cast a dark shadow
On the daily proceedings
Where dreams are dreamt
Lives are lived
And hope is the great opium
For those who wake up every morning
With drudgery their sole companion.
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