Lost Summer

Innocence lost in servitude,
childhood lost in a struggle for survival
Luxuries of a toddler lost in compromise,
comfort of a meal lost in sacrifice
Pens in hands, lost in chemicals crude,
Toys in hands, lost in making food
Education lost in dowry,
Equality lost in conforming to society
Makes fire crackers by the day,
watches them being set ablaze by night
Soon his eyes cannot see,
Neither the crackers he makes, nor the fireworks in the sky at night
Sees her brother go to school,
Sets off to wash clothes, longing to go the other way too
Cleans tables and serves food while his hungry stomach growls,
Picks up the plates, steals a bite,
the best meals are found in what they call ‘trash’
Scrubs the floors of others’ houses before she knows to write the alphabet,
her own filth repels her as she cleans the others’
Summers spent under the flyover, winters there too
The sun eating them whole
the winter leaving them cold
The youngest sibling, an infant,
The oldest member, the grandfather
Every season takes one, leaving them to lament,
As they wait for the next to go
She wants to be clean and dignified like that madame whose house she cleans
He wants to work in a hotel,
there’s enough food for everyone there, he’s heard
As winter comes, she falls sick
There is something not right, they know
In the way her thin face looks paler,
in the way her bones are too weak to support her,
in the way her pupils dilate,
in the way she writhes in pain
He wants to help her, ‘there is a doctor’ he tells his mother
Pays no heed, ‘go to work’, she says
The winter will do its job anyway,
one less stomach to feed
The winter does come, does its job faithfully
Innocence lost in servitude,
childhood lost in a struggle for survival
Life lost in poverty,
But, one less stomach for the family to feed.

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