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  An Address  

  Looking Back
  Vol II : issue 2

  Amit Chaudhuri
  Cass Sunstein
  Dibyendu Palit
  Vinay Lal
  Only in Print

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Down the street
On a worn-out rug
Sits an old man
His face, sort of incomplete
Lying to a side with his bowl
A beggar, who
Asks for nothing

Turn right
A long line of shops
Refugees, all of them
Those wood shacks, their shops
Right behind, within inches
Their homes

They came from elsewhere
Took refuge
In His House
Were asked to leave
For, that was His House

Ah, yes
That address you asked me about
On that same street, beyond the shops
You'll find His House
The Ibn Sana Ullah Sayyed Wali Khan's masjid
Turn left
A few steps and
You will smell it
A big heap of rubbish
Familiar, shrinking and filling each day
A landmark

But you don't need to stop there
Walk on for a bit
You'll find a book bazaar
After crossing the rusted ledges overhead


Acrylic on canvas by

A dark lane
But not really a lane
Some poor folk have made homes there
Not really homes, though
There are no walls
No windows
No curtains
As you pass by
Perhaps you will feel
You're flicking
Through random chapters
Of a cheap paperback

Careful when you leave,
You don't want to slip
They're all living there, you know
You don't want to step on anyone
Alive or dead
You see
For every person dying here
Two are born every day
Right here in this lane

Coming out of that lane
A splash of sunlight in your eyes
For a while you won't see a thing
Rub your eyes
Look ahead
A square
And the street running by
Bungalows marked PM and GM
Further down that road
There's a new airport coming up

But whose address are you looking for
Sorry. I can't help you there
Thought it was your own home you were looking for


p. 1 p. 2

Translated from the Hindi by Devina Dutt

Poet, filmmaker and lyricist, Gulzar is celebrated as much for his contribution to Urdu and Hindi literature as to Indian cinema. He lives in Bombay