I got down from the car
& walked towards the NREGS Site.
The women wage-seekers till then squatting,
got up in fright.
As I hopped through the field- dust & sand,
my ‘Attender’ ran behind;
my goggles, a bottle and umbrella in hand.
“Amma! Amma!The sun is blazing hot.
Here, wear this! don’t forget
the fever it last time brought.”
Hesitant, I put on the sun-glasses.
My PA spoke to the workers,
a whisper hushed the masses.
“Madam has come to review your work,
you draw your wages, but duty you shirk.
Your productivity is so low,
as you squat and go.
Don’t you care that Madam will know?”
Beads of sweat trickled down their head,
Beads of sweat on my cheeks now so red.
I fumbled as I admonished them,
feigning anger that had vanished then.
I removed my sun-glasses
& looked them eye to eye.
I didn’t know what to speak & why.
An infant wailed,
inside a made-up swing
hanging from the tree.
Its mother was confused,
whether to quieten it
or pacify me.
Old plastic bottles with muddy waters within,
cuddled up with broken tiffin boxes,
beneath the only tree in the scene.
I started walking back,
my head covered with my saree pallu.
sun-glasses in my hand,
as I forgot to reprimand.
“Wait Amma! Wait Amma!! Our vehicle has managed to come half way.”
“But Why ?!? I can walk like all of you do”
“No No Amma. It’s not a ‘walking distance’. We’re used to it, but not you.”
As I sat in the vehicle & pulled down the window,
smiled slowly, waving at the women- my mind still in limbo.
I gulped down the mineral water,
put the AC on high.
Introspecting the Officer in me,
I heaved an irritated sigh.
May be I should be more ‘practical’.
Feel from the heart, yet work from the head.
My sentimental self is unsuitable,
for the road that I tread.
Lets accept the truth.
At the most,
A compassionate crocodile tear is all I may shed.
But they must toil hard for their daily bread.
If I have to do justice to this job & my people,
I’ve got to work tough & stop feeling feeble.
Yet, as I got down at another
such site for inspection.
Lessons that I had learnt
from self introspection,
Suddenly vanished somewhere,
into the thin air.
I subconsciously removed my sun-glasses again.
doing so somehow I felt I shared their pain.
My saree pallu quickly covered my face.
All ‘Practical’, ‘Rational’ disappeared without a trace.
Now, the unforgiving sun burnt all of us,
sitting with them & fighting my sentimental fuss,
hiding my weird emotion,
beneath a layer of sun-screen lotion…
I reviewed their works with all my might,
shunning my creature comforts,
somehow felt right…
Because as beautiful as it may seem for a while,
rose-tinted glasses sometimes blur the truth.