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The Curse of the Peasant

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The skies turned grey and the genuflecting bodies turned to pray,

the land is parched and yet the shriveling plants squeeze out a teardrop in supplication for a spray;

the seeds and the saplings that he had sowed with such joy and expectation,

it is excruciating to see this labor of love wither away into extinction;

For a year, two, maybe four, he doesn’t now remember, the kids have survived on a meal a day of rice and pickle,

the mood in these parts is despondent for the supply of hope is on a trickle;

the moneylender comes calling once a week bearing insults and ultimatums,

there is no respite from the indignity and seemingly no way out of this complication;

He fished for a lifeline from the government, to help them survive the ordeal and get out of this bind,

little did he know that the government spoke up that storm to get him to vote but thereafter was deaf, blind and impossible to find;

the hungry faces and the emaciated bodies of the little ones make his heart bleed,

the apathy all around is corrosive to the soul and there is nobody left to plead;

The prospects of rebounding are as downcast as the chances of a torrential downpour,

hope comes in every morn at nine and takes his leave in the afternoon at the stroke of four;

There is nothing left to do but to walk through the farm and caress the desiccated corpses,

and then proceed to pen a letter reminiscing the good times, seeking forgiveness and bequeathing a few of life’s courses;

The furrows on his forehead are deeper than those on his farmland,

He has now reached the limits of his endurance and the shame he can withstand;

He spent the last few bucks and brought home a veritable feast that evening – all their favorite gustatory delights,

All ate to their hearts content, forgetting for that moment the tribulations and their plight;

The children went to bed happy that night hopeful of what tomorrow might,

They stood over his lifeless body flush with poison, rigor mortis had set in and that crumpled letter in a hand clasped tight;

He had argued in that letter that he had exorcised the pestilence of debt away with the pesticide,

he had lamented his failure as a father and had urged the kids never to pick up the plough, harrow or scythe;

The downpour finally arrived laden with the irony of timing, when he was on his funeral pyre,

Just to remind him that he was as powerless in life as in death, with his half burnt corpse now begging for fire!;

Nature relented, the farmer is now turned to dust, the widow and her children carry bricks from the kiln on their heads but the collective conscience of a society that has failed them still doesn’t get it what it must.

 

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