WILL YOU ROLL DOWN YOUR WINDOW?
A small boy stops at your car
Squints through the sun
As he asks you to lower your window.
Some click their tongues with frustration
Tap the window to drive the children away
Maybe their excuse is that they don’t have short change
Or maybe they feel too elitist and ‘clean’
To engage with the ‘filth of the streets’
That is when you need to ask
‘for all we can say,
The coins in your pocket
Might have come to circulation
From the boys who beg on the street’
But they don’t like those questions
Questions that will make them realize
That their expensive dreams
Bankrupt these children
And put them on the road
In the first place’
You see this happen
The tapping and the frowning
And the boys trying to speak
Over the noise of the engine.
You also notice something the older boy does
He makes his younger brother look ahead for cars
While he slips a two-rupee coin
From his pockets to the bowl
You watch as the eyes
Of the younger brother
Gleam with their ‘success’
You see the children
Looking at their 5-rupee coins in awe
For those are the
‘gold coins’ of the rags.
Now they come to you
Tap on your window
Will you look at their eyes?
And the creases around it
Spider webs of laughter,
Will you now remember your children?
And notice that the difference is that
Your children have something called a childhood
While these children have lost it.
Or will you look into their eyes
And see their unkempt hair
And dirt-stained cheeks
And think to yourself
‘oh, this is unsanitary!’
Nandhitha Babuji is a 18-year-old aspiring poet from Tamil Nadu, passionate about using her words to show solidarity against children’s issues.