Manisha Gupta


Of Dust & Stars

  Here was another evening
With the glorious sun setting
The ladies & children all gathered in the park
Children began playing
while the ladies busied in talk
Topics came and topics passed
Then it was time for the last
Somehow the argument drifted
towards the East & the West
Majority was in favour of the west
while for some east was best
East and west not in any other sense
But of flats facing east & those facing west
Arguments were serious and colourful
And the ladies all remained cheerful
Said one- The west side flats overlook the swimming pool
An opponent retorted- the east ones give a view of the Film-city hill
Quipped one-The west gets lovely breeze morning noon and evening
Opponent said-the east gets the warmth of the rising sun each morning
More points in praise of the west
More arguments favouring the east
Then someone intending to settle the matter once & for all declared
Since there’s no stretch of empty land facing the west side
We’re saved from watching people shitting first thing in the morning
This was the turning point
Even the east side ladies seemed to falter
For, what was said, nothing could alter
Yes, they agreed-every morning we remove
the curtains summer winter or rain
What we get to see is a number of people easing themselves, sitting in a chain
And so the discussion seemed to be over
West side had won
while the east stood the loser
I, one of the east block group had been a silent audience throughout
Smiled to myself silently thinking of the two great lines which read out
“Two people look out of the prison bars
One sees the dust the other the stars”
For……. …
Looking out of the window each morning, all some people saw were
the slum dwellers doing “potty”
Whereas, I welcomed the morning sun each day and enjoyed its beauty while it rose from behind the hill of the Film city.
Thus in conclusion what matters most
Is the kind of outlook that you host !

(This poem is a real account of the situation in a posh multi-storey apartment in Mumbai where the poet used to live. The land facing the east side was unoccupied and so the slum dwellers from neighbouring areas used it as a perpetual toilet)

© Author
(Published in Kafla Intercontinental - Summer 2015)