When lapsing into pity for myself,
Which seems to happen frequently of late,
I remember those I saw, when young –
The pavement-dwellers on my city’s streets.
Remembering this, and father’s photographs
Of famines, riots, men and women shot
When Britain ruled and Indian troops used guns
Against their own, I shake my silly head.
And then, I can’t feel sorry any more
For one like me, who’s working at a job
And so gets paid and so can pay the rent,
And even finds the time to type out verse.
And I remember how I once was stuck
In exile from this land and from my own.
And so, I'm glad that I’ve a place to live,
Without the fear of knocking at the door.
And I remember too – the ones who'd fled,
The stricken eyes of those who’d walked for days,
Whose feet had sores with pus I could not treat...
“Joy Bangla!” was the cry they uttered then. \1
And then, although I’ve had my share of knocks,
I stir myself to do the job at hand.
And though there’s much that I perforce neglect,
I still can wring my satisfactions small.
The world is full of madness. Who escapes?
The lots of some are endless misery.
But yet we live, and do what we can do,
So when it’s time, we’ll leave with less regret.
The victories we eke are transient,
And one by one, come more and more defeats.
But still, there's true and false, and right and wrong.
And still there's love – and duty's quiet call.
And so, at end, the hardest thing to bear
Is when there's conflict in our consciences.
But even this, the war within, we learn
To live with, as the outer wars proceed.
2014 March 13, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York
1. "Victory to Bengal!" -------------------------------------------