I am the one.

Who dances in your baraat to entertain you. And make myself a spectacle. You try to come close to me and touch me. You seek entertainment out of me, not my dance. And pass lewd remarks on me. You, the ones in suits – prim and proper.

While I dance, you look at me stealthily. You see your men prowling at me. You are disgusted, not by them, but with me. And yet you seek joy in stealthily standing on your terraces and balconies and watching me dance. You, the homely ones – decent and decorous.

I am the one.

Who sweeps the peanut shells and empty cold drink bottles you carelessly throw on the floor of the train you travel in. I have dirty hair you wouldn’t want to see. I wear ragged unwashed clothes you wouldn’t want to come anywhere close to. My right leg is missing. I lost it while picking up cans from the railway tracks when a train hit me. I was young then and my world was small. This is the best I thought I could do. I clean your mess. You, the ones with packaged food and drinks – well fed.

I am the one.

Who holds up a child in one hand and asks for money from the other. That child you see is my kid brother. I have many other little siblings and I am sure I will have many more while I am growing up. I am also sure that I will lose most of them in the journey. As you see me approaching towards your car, you quickly lock the doors and shut the window glass. I knock to beg for a little food, some money. I want to go to school. I need food. My wants and needs don’t match. Perhaps they never will. I wipe the windscreen of your long car, sometimes I carry bouquets to sell or pencils or novels. But you look into the other direction. I am an abstraction in your perfect luxury. You, the sons and daughters of worthy men and women – rich and literate.

I am the one.

Who presses the lift button while you stand with a cold face for the indicator to show the floor of the building where your office is. Who holds the door open when you reach your office every morning and salutes you while doing so. Who brings water and coffee and files to your desk. Who manages the parking area standing in the sun all day. Who manages the traffic waving hands. Who fills petrol in your car. Who scans your belongings and you when you enter certain premises. Who takes care of your child when you are away. Who cleans your home. Who irons your clothes. Who sits on a piece of wood all day selling vegetables. Who packs the items you purchase at the general store. Who does the odd jobs.

I am everywhere. And yet you don’t see me. For you, I am not worth recognition.

I wince in pain everytime you walk past through me. I wince in pain everytime you give me that look – those narrowed eyes, harrowed words.

I am the one who is brushed aside everywhere. Each moment of the day.

I am a blot on your rosy picture.

I am the one. I do not resist. I cannot.

But, can you do without me?

You, the one who knows it all.