Clutched in his arm, like a lifeline,
Lies a little ragged doll.
Better dressed than he is, I notice,
As he shivers in the cold.
As as I sling my bagpack on,
Dreading another day of school,
I see him by the same corner,
Lifting a stack of plates as high as him, toiling like a mule.
I wince.( He makes for an ugly sight)
And straighten my new tie,
While he swats away the flies,
Bringing another round of chai.
I see him again by the docks,
Too weary to stand straight.
And again, rubbing his slap-stung cheek,
Cursing whoever wrote his fate.
That little boy is everywhere,
At every corner of every street.
As I learnt the table of seventeen that day,
He learnt how to slaughter meat.
My throwaways make his face light up,
To him, there’s no greater treasure.
My worn out quilt, my old shoes,
Unaware that his worth is beyond measure.
You cane him for honest mistakes,
But two more pennies make him stay.
It sure makes your work easier,
But it’s his childhood you’re taking away.
Imagine the power, the potential,
That their calloused hands hold.
The same ones clutching the ragged doll,
Out on a corner, shivering in the cold.