ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 3, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

The Nameless Face

"If I give all I possess to the poor
And surrender my body to the flames,
But have not love,
I gain nothing."

- 1 Corinthians 13:3 -

By Rukshani Weerasooriya

He wore his usual rough-cloth suit.
Breezy brown. Pastel poverty.
He looked like he shivered.
Beneath his pride.

He smelt like the street:
Like the windblown struggles
Of cigarettes and tears.
He wore them like garlands of flowers.
They were our tribute to his kind.
He could not hide it.

At night he would pray
To be freed of the chains
That bound him to the rich man's wallet.
But he would wake up
Still bound.
Still asking.
Still not having received.

I did not understand.
I could not.
He was not me.
Not the little heiress
With love to spare
In five rupee coins,
And a future as bright as the sun.

He could only watch.
And wish.
And sometimes hate.
But rarely ever achieve.

For he is him.
The angry child nagging for food.
The driver. The sweeper.
The man by the door.
The struggling symbol.
The poetry. The art.
The 'stains' we try to hide,
Or remove, like magic.

I hand him some money
With charity on my face.
He is hard. Bitter.
As cold as death.

For I gave him my money
And withheld my love.

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