A Sunday evening walk in the city

The sidewalks are taken

by hawkers brewing pakoras and tea

the smell of smoke

cigarettes, kerosene, open fires,

the smog of tiredness

like a  dirty chadar

on the hands of the beggar lady

forever turned upwards.

Petrol fumes… of course

how could I miss that?

“take shallow breaths,”

I tell myself,

as a horn blares in my ear

and I step off the street

to the dubious safety

of an ill lit path.

Broken fragments of yesterday’s meal

that even the stray dogs do not see

mingle with the stench of decay

and spit and fatigue

as the night jasmine struggles

reticent in defeat

haplessly spreading its perfume

on this jungle of concrete.

Two steps and it’s gone,

yet the sweet fragrance washes over me

in a city that chokes

I find vague relief.

I return with a worsened cough

but memories of days long erased

tempering my steps

carrying me.

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