The Prostitute And The Beggar – Poem


On the street

under the flamboyant  Gulmohar

two women share the space

A prostitute and an old beggar.

 

One gaudily painted

Like a cheap bazaar toy

And the other

a wrinkled yellowing autumn leaf.

Half clad

One to reveal

the other to conceal
their feminine frames

Day and night they play the roles

assigned to them by fate

She lures lewd passengers

By her fake smiles

while anguish gnaws at her heavy heart

 

She leans against an old lamp-post

blowing smoke in the sultry summer air

waiting to be an one-night bride

Her womanhood laid bare

for hungry men to devour

 

The old beggar woman watching her

with wise eyes and deep contemplation

Like an Autumn leaf her frail body

wrinkled by time, limply hangs

within the tattered clothes she wears

 

Unkempt hair cling to her hollow face

like wild vines on crumbling walls

A dented bowl lies empty

on the torn blanket she sits on

 

Sometimes a carelessly drifting flower

falls from the tree

to fill the emptiness

She folds her hands in Namaskar

and keeps it aside

 

That little piece of land

is their stage

Where they perform relentlessly

 

One, by faking a smile or two

and baring her body

to lure the flesh hungry scavengers

The other , by baring her soul

 

A mere display of her worthlessness

to the world she lives in

Wrapped in herself

her hands outstretched

in dignified calm

 

Like the other

she too had hardened herself  to

weather the life’s storms

 

Many a times she would lie

curled to one side

retreating into her private cave

as the other sold her body and soul

Humiliated ,  neglected

Love crucified in sex/poverty

 

Her life a swivel-door

One goes , another cames in

Nameless, faceless, crowd

Her youth tossed like coins

 

Vulnerable,

My mind becomes

an open playground for thoughts

 

From where I sit

on a wooden stool by the window

beside a table laden with

sinful delights and a bed

made ready for one more night

dressed to please

the one man in my life

I feel my soul merge with hers

 

And then

 

I look at the other

a mere form under the dark tree

and try to hide

the burden on my soul

 

Under tattered rags of leftover pride

I fold my thoughts

and look around the cell

which is my home

and wonder

Am I really better off
than them ?