Stranded

We pass the roads hastily but gently.
Our destination has been decided. It was
decided even before we set our feet
inside the car. On the way, stray cows
embellish the highways. Farmers tend to the
grass that glistens in the sun.
Women clad in thin sarees tap at our
windows, begging, so that they can
feed the children sobbing at their
bosom. We stare impassively in the
opposite direction when they do. I guess we left
our charitable hats at home today.
The sky changes from a bright blue to a darker shade.
And, as we pass monochrome houses in villages
whose names are too hard to pronounce,
our driver honks impatiently. He can’t
hear very well. Perhaps, he honks so that he
knows that he is creating some sound. A sound
that others can listen to without having to lean closer to him
so that they can tell him what they are saying.
But we let him honk at empty roads.
We let him honk at overcrowded roads.
The villagers look up at our passing
car with passive amusement that tells
us that they see cars full of tourists every day
but never tire from gawking at them.
We fluctuate from tired and bored to restless
and happy. Life goes on here and we see it
unfold. The next passengers that are headed
somewhere else will look nothing like us but
they will still roll down their windows,
with their imaginations running wild, eyes taking
in the rural scene and writing poetry in their heads
that they are too lazy to pen down and
too ignorant to proclaim to someone else.

*A saree is a female garment worn in the Indian subcontinent. It consists of a drape and is typically wrapped around the waist with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff.

Avantika Singhal is an aspiring spoken word artist and writer currently studying English literature at Regent’s University London. Over the course of her writing career, she has gotten her poetry published in respected literary magazines such as Writers’ Asylum, Red Fez, Textploit, Jabberwock Online, the Indian Review, Spillwords, the Emerald Hues anthology, the Hall Of Poets’ Valentine anthology, the United We Stand: Poets Against Terror anthology, Germ Magazine, Pressure Gauge Press and Our Poetry Archive etc. She aspires to make a positive impact with her writing. She has also contributed her literary creations to a bedtime story book named Tales By Teens, online platforms like Half Baked Beans and Indian Women Blog.

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