Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Pilgrimage

You held my hands fast,
Just a boy in his teens,
As you led me up the hillock
Where Balaji’s temple stands:
Strong as a rock,
Strong as your faith,
Till despair took over
And you saw
The serpentine queue,
Crawling from the bottom
To the top of the hill;
A queue of torn saris
Nursing infants
From torn blouses;
Male pilgrims,
Topless, half naked,
Teasing the holy thread
Which is the only wealth
That poor Brahmins
Bequeath to their heirs,
Their successors.

You conferred with father
As a tout appeared from nowhere,
Selling passes
At hundred rupees each.
You had the means, mother,
To buy me, dad and yourself,
A pass each. You bought me
The shortcut to the sanctum,
Where God stands,
Looking patronizingly
At the crowds who squeeze
Through layers of priests
And novices.
But mother, I am cursed:
For you bought me a way
To the inner sanctum, yet
Could not buy me salvation.

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