The Harmless Word

Posted on September 14, 2008


A child he was when he’d heard,
That particular name, that very word,
He accepted it, as he accepted the rest,
With a pinch of salt, with a heavy heart at best.

The other boys went to the school he swept,
They studied, while at sweeping he became adept.
They laughed at him but he bowed to them with respect,
That was the world to him, so what if a trifle imperfect!

Some are born to rule, and some merely to obey,
“That’s God’s plan!” He’d heard his father say.
As gospel he took it, repeated it night and day,
Never letting his self-respect or conscience astray.

A young man he became, tanned body, dark as coal,
No despair, no hope, no dream, empty was his soul.
He’d learned to get up when he was kicked and beaten down,
And to kind words say to those who thought him a clown.

No insult too harsh, no injury so bad,
His life was better than many of his peers had.
He smoked beedis and drank mahua at festival,
Never letting himself think of good and evil.

Soon, he married a girl so dark but just as pretty,
She’d been the beauty of his community.
And, soon a son was born and he became a dad,
He vowed to make him into a fine young lad.

When the boy turned six, he gave him a broom,
Taught him to swab and sweep their little room,
When his son was eight, his little hand he took,
And taught him to sweep the garbage by the brook.

Then one day his son came crying, and he knew he’d heard,
That small little, harmless little, meaningless little word.
Wiping his little boy’s tears, he heard himself say,
“Son, some are born to rule and some merely to obey!”

henri, September 14th, 2008.

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