In a heartbreaking tragedy, a 12-year-old child labour – Jamlo Makdam died on 20th April after walking for 150 km from her workplace Bhupalpally in Telengana to her native place, Bijapur district in Chattisgarh. She was working in Chilly fields in Kannaiguda village.
I have written a poem in her memory.
Cry not -my beloved country- Cry not
Save your tears
for Jamlo, the chilly-picker,
She needs them plenty
to keep her walking.
Only a mile afar
mother waiting to hug her
quench her thirst -before she moves to a land unknown.
Running away from coronavirus, with week’s hunger in belly,
100 rupees tucked in her skirt, bedecked with chilly flakes,
a mere 150 kilometers to walk,
no marathoners to accompany
she is walking, walking, and walking.
On a lonely road
Sun blistering above
With no helpful winds to blow away the heat
She is walking, walking, and walking.
Thirsty blood, tearless eyes
Still her dream dies hard
home, sweet home and mother awaiting – her final resting place.
Hunger, her best friend, she is not afraid of,
because she must walk, walk, and walk.
Stars are shining
in their AC cooled rooms,
cutting hubby’s hair short, sweeping floors – a first time in life
singing paeans to Lockdown, Lockdown and Lockdown
A 100K like in Instagram -no wonder.
Leaders are busy in their virtual world
With Mask on
Conferring on matters of life and death
may be talking about Michelangelo
and heart beating about Jamlos at large.
But our Jamlo is not even a footnote.
Which country owned Toba Tek Singh?
Gods only know.
Which state owns Jamlo for her to receive some succor?
The answer is blowing in the wind
To her mother’s arm that is the only place on earth she belongs to.