The sadhu rises with the morning
to perform his ablutions,
dawn glinting at the edge of the river.
The station bustles to life:
Hawkers set up their stands,
beggars take up their posts,
the chai-boy scampers from customer to customer,
carrying milky tea in chipped glasses;
the station master, with two tattered flags
and a prosperous paunch,
burps as he steps out onto the platform:
the 8:30 Shatabdi Express
the 9:42 Frontier Mail
the 10:11 Amritsar Express
Each train lumbers in,
raising a cloud of dust, noise, motion;
then chugs out, hooting,
and the station settles again.
The mangy street dogs
search for scraps of shade
in the noon-time blaze.
The child lies in bed by her mother
through the long afternoon,
a fan stirring the soupy air.
Evening brings the chai-boy
scampering down the main road
disappearing into the brightly lit
jewelry and cloth shops filled with haggling customers.
The village sinks lethargically into dusk:
monkeys scuttle over rooftops,
scaring pigeons into flight.
Moonlight slides into the room.
An off-tune chorus of crickets
drowns out the snores and wheezes of deep sleep.