The Shoeshine Boy
Corrugated sheets for roofs
And frond walls their only roost
The shoeshine boy’s family eats
A meager meal. Conscience bitten,
Self-respect their only wealth,
They choose the bread of labor;
not the beggar’s banquet.
The smiling sun shows the boy
Shining shoes at a railway station;
A few boots done he views them
With a proud eye. Vans screech in
Spewing officers and constables;
Beggars and whores fan out
To escape the x-ray eyes; the boy
Watches with steady eyes through
The polish stains on his visage...
The constabulary pick him up also
Deaf to his protests: I am not
A beggar, a whore or a pimp, sir
But deaf ears are blind too.
The boy is herded with the filth
Into a large van only to be freed
For a fee...hundred rupees each.
The boy, the only one who cannot
Afford to buy his innocence, pays
His hard earned ten rupees
For his self-respect and shame
Back at the station, groping
In garbage cans, finding nothing,
He seeks his tools in a frenzy;
Desperation seizes him finding
Them gone; he shakes his fists
At the heavens above in rage; now
Even the bread of labor eludes him.
Sore, totally disillusioned with life...
He sits on the pavement to beg.