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.