1. Thousand Faces Ten thousand we saw in a blink, It's not daffodils moving along with zephyr, With the bounties showered in plains. This time, it's the migrants. The migrants, Fighting two deadliest pandemics: COVID and hunger. The latter is familiar And former is in voices everywhere. The beads of sweat rubbed by red gumcha* never evaporated, The yearning to return home is discernible. One of them named Sakina walked a thousand kilometers for days So did many others. The kaccha house** awaited her arrival But the journey never culminated. Abandonment commenced, The invisible guest reigned Bleeding toes, sunburnt faces and many empty stomachs Fastened their way to homes. Beyond every pain, the rest of us numbed still moved on. And the second harrowing journey began. * Hindi word used in India to describe cotton towel for wiping sweat. ** A kind of house made up of bamboo, mud, grass, reed, thatch, etc. 2. The Lesser World I walked singularly. Smiled, lived, cherished and dreamed to touch the stars. The little me was free. And I fathomed miles continuously. A few more joined. Some with beaming smiles and others with hunched shoulders. We walked in unison and remained unapologetically single. More joined and walked together. Believing they will catch the fastest wind on the cusp of their fists. Confident and battered at the rough edges of life. I walked in intermingled chains of social beings. The material world was concrete, Life a mere abstraction. Smiles are now occasional, Dreams are calculative and less in numbers. I walk in the crowd; chained Bleeding while moving ahead And continues to fathom singularly.
Gazala Khan is a Nainital (India) based researcher and writer. Her area of interest in cultural studies traces cultural histories of India through creative and literary works. She believes nature to be the source of her creative energy that she expresses through poems. Her works have previously been published in Himakhaya, GNOSIS and Dialogue.