The festival of lights (Diwali)

You go about bursting crackers,

heedless of the swirling smoke

you laugh at what you cannot dispel

oh once, won’t you look?


…into the longing eyes of the homeless child

who stares at that whirling disc of light,

his clothes are torn, his fingers worn

from the bricks he carried high

on his head today for rupees four. Do you know

in his heart there burns a light

far brighter than your mightiest

rockets… and his face creases

with delight he feels to watch your

children play: there, do you see him

now? He’s just ’round the corner

just over the edge

of the darkness in your heart

on this festival of lights.


No one bought him kali patkas

yet he feels a breathtaking joy

as tonight he lights an extra candle

in his little corner of the sky…..

Your countless lights may go unnoticed,

but a million lights burn tonight

of the millions made homeless by our excesses

and in some far heaven, Kali smiles…

not at you and your foolish noise

not at the paper strewn about…

She smiles at the children hunting

for one half used “phuljhuri”, one unburst bomb…..


Oh, you’ll forget these festivities tomorrow

the lights will be stored for a year.

All that’ll remain are the hungry eyes of the children

and these few lines of unread verse.

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