An armless aging man
boards the Ladies’ at Mahim.
At the familiar sight
of a beggar in the aisle
women stir, their eyes drawn
to the bluntness of his arms.
Someone must have draped his lungi,
buttoned the shirt well-worn,
placed the skull cap, shifted
the collection bag strap
for tolerable comfort…
His feet stop by each – she dips into her wallet,
reccine worn or shiny new,
gives what she can to lend a hand.
The beggar presses his right stump
to her head
imprinting the blessing of her choice:
good marks in the child’s exams,
a salary raise,
but most of all, most of all
may her man be gentle in his ways.
I alight at Wadala station,
the train will carry on –
peopled by the grace of strangers
that live in this city of sound.