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The Urchin in Dr Radhakrishnan Road - Part One

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The Urchin in Dr Radhakrishnan Road - Part One

                  Part One

                 Still the din dashes about in his dreams
now louder in the spacedout quiet:
an occasional auto-rickshaw backfiring revving
spluttering too close for chancy comfort
some blaring tv hoisted above craning necks

Over the squeezed out crackling mud sidewalk 
   his head buried in the crook of his charred bony arm 
        his right elbow crusted in a masked-eye pattern 
             his left spindly leg knotted at the knee
jauntily splayed in a triangle on his right
    the mud-soaked sole inturned at the angle
as if to cushion the prickly grains on bare scorched skin
a defensive gesture against 
the slight lukewarm breeze lifting from Marina Beach
teasing the settled dust the strangled pores
he had for a blanket

Through the dropped jaw rosy-pink at the bled bitten lips
  his breath wheezed through stained craggy teeth
     his broken nose stopped by blobs of bloody phlegm
a hovering fly or two keeping undisturbed guard

His hair streaked in plaited dusty strands
lost in the sidewalk's trampled mud

On his loins some tortured rags bound at the hips
bulged at the dryblown stomach
                       the navel unfurled like a budding ear
to where the hardly heaving contorted ribs
held the will to awaken
the evaporating carcase of a steamy engine at the works

He woke to the mocking streaking laughter of the magpie
calling out to its mate across the slipping concave-tiled roofs
across the dense mango green weighted clusters
where they had slumbered for the night
to the mangy scavenger dog digging its nozzle in the splodges
of decomposing leaves paper and tins larded with leavings:

turds dung urine phlegm and menstrual foam
that the parched earth gulped during the day
to the bluebottles festering on the peeled shin-bone
to the hordes of tinkling bicycles piercing his unquiet drums
to the buses and taxis top-heavy creaking and near toppling
and the sharp clipped voices of servants
urgently preparing the exit of their master
in a polished limousine through laundered lawns

Some fifty yards away across the road
a low saffron roofed-box of a stone shrine
lay crushed and sagging on the tarmac against the mud-sidetable
from which sprawled the scaly frame of a dust-throttled tree
the garland of mallikai on the dark stubby slippery shrine
of a squat Ganesha

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