A long road of inhumanity

IMG_A1AB2C17A407-1Let’s walk with this migrant labourer for a while
A father in his late 20s
Walking with his bags
and barely leftover pride on his back
Balancing his child
and hope for survival on his shoulders

He left his poor farm
To earn a living in big promising cities
He slogged day and night
To help his landlord and employers
Build their houses and live their dreams

When pandemic demanded all go home
He and his family were kicked out on the street
Government ceased the public transport
Forcing them to walk on foot
100s of miles to their village
On a long concrete highway
No food, no water, no shelter
Desperately turning back
on the sound of every passing vehicle
Hoping someone would help

An overloaded truck slows down
100s like him rush to cling with its ropes
He is not an insensitive father
When he throws his child on to the truck
He is desperate to save him
With all that he has
His body, his strength
And his determination to survive

IMG_4E4B0C523EC2-1* * *

Now, walk with the woman
Catching up right behind her husband
Her steps way bigger than her frame
Carrying a bag in left
And her toddler in the right arm

She left her village
To support her man
In his struggle against poverty
And it’s evil cousin of gender oppression

She gave him hope
To dream of a family
In the Eden garden of capitalist schemes

Pandemic busted their hope
And robbed her dignity overnight
Left stranded between–
a lost dream and a fading homeland
She walks on a long lifeless road
Gathering her last strength
Bearing the child, the shame
and broken hope
Ready to give every drop to her life
To her family
She is a moving home
She is a woman too!

* * *

And if you could stay a little longer
And walk beside the child for a while
Look within his innocent eyes
Wondering quietly
Why his school, his playground, his safe home
Was snatched overnight
Why do his parents choose to walk this long road
Why does his stomach hurt so much
Why he can’t ask for food
Why no one would wipe his tears

A soul unknowingly born in a world
So broken and so inhuman
Crushing his innocence with structural inequity
That you and I create and endorse every day

Their pandemic is not COVID
It’s the fragmented society, failed governance, fake capitalist dream
And heartlessness of people like us
Residing in the top slots of the pyramid
Unaware of the collapse at the bottom

— manish srivastava
from the sacred well
on sleepless night of 13th May 2020

…………………………………………………………

Photo credits:

Some more info on state of stranded migrant labourers in midst of COVID lockdown:

Some grassroots efforts supporting migrant labours and their villages:

2 thoughts on “A long road of inhumanity

  1. It’s heartbreaking. Your poem captures the tragedy of the characters well. I hope these people don’t have to return to work in the factories that didn’t care for them when it mattered most. But alas they can’t do anything about the Government that abandoned them.

    Like

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