|SUNIL KUMAR PRUSTI
THE STORY OF
A LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY IN ORISSA
Not an inch of the earth belongs to anybody
We live in a rented house,
have two square meals per day.
Want is sacred like an everyday prayer
of all the family members;
mother worships the god most.
The god is a calendar
or an incomplete wooden toy.
Be He of earth or stone,
my sister smears him with sindoor.
Feigning to be angry with her, father says :
soon I am getting you married off
Yet she builds her sand castles.
All these things sound philosophical to me.
God is a petty tout,
life a semblance to a sand castle.
I make an oratory, sharp like an arrow,
of hunger, dream and unemployment.
Although I am an intellectual
my friends dub me mad.
Father's job and preachings
are morning and evening.
Younger brothers are storms, cut off.
How much of dowry for sister's marriage ?
Will you have balloons, balloons,
red like childhood ?
Will you tuck flowers ?
lock of your hairs in the dark night.
Who will lie on the bier ?
Come, children, sit on my shoulder,
I will take you to the land of moon.
When you are thirsty
I will give you the water of my eyes.
When it's night
you will sleep with my lullabies.
I had seen the map of Orissa
in my school geography book.
How good is my land !
Can I ever forget it ?
The family tears
are like the breaking of the secret rains.
Tell me, who will accompany me
to my house for a day or two.
Don't tell me
that you don't like this story of mine.
Rabindra K Swain