'We died because you didn't care'

This Diwali I will not be there

Rashmi Saksena May 22, 2020
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This Diwali I will not be there
To paint your walls bright and fair;
Dangling from a rope, risking limb and life there
because I had many to feed in my 'jhuggi' out there.
That didn’t kill me; I died because you didn’t care!

Tomorrow I will not be there
Calling for you to buy my ware;
Pushing my heavy cart under the sun’s glare
because my little girl asked for an ice lolly in my slum out there.
The summer heat didn’t kill me; I died because you didn’t care!

For your next party I will not be there
Heedlessly dipping my fingers in scalding water
Just to dye your dupatta in a colour rare
because my wife too needs a veil in my village out there.
The burns didn’t kill me; I died because you didn’t care!

We were just about everywhere
To work for you we were always there
To toil for payment handsome or paltry
because every paisa counted back home out there
The slog didn’t kill us; we died because you didn’t care!

Now when you come looking for us, we will not be there
You depended on us and we on you to meet the day's care
We did odd jobs and carried out many a repair
Because we were helping each other to live out there  
This didn’t kill me, Ram, Rahim or John; we died because you didn’t care!

Suddenly we became people just not there
You locked your door and heart to leave us starving out there
One morning we ceased to be persons you knew sometime somewhere
 Instead, we became for you desperate migrant labour herded in the market square
That’s when you killed us: we died because you didn’t care!

(The writer is a veteran journalist. She can be contacted at rsaksena8@gmail.com)