The black asphalt goes broke into the sky
Amid gray trees that vanish in dense fog.
Tea steams in mud cups, near the shack.
A few fry-oil smells assault hungry noses.
Man sends leisurely smoke swirls in air.
Urchins swarm around acrid old tire fires
Their palms held up to warm to the heat.
A rickety bus kicks up dust in a distance.
Right, said old conductor to his skin bag
With new currency notes and ticket stubs.
The cleaner-boy stood on the foot-board,
His tattered shirt flying like a windy flag.
A man motions to slow down near village.
The man speaks steam into the winter air
Of stale village politics, of women at home
Of crops failing to suck vapor from the air.
Giant trees disappear into the red earth.
Their bodies are now and then sprawled
Across the roads of progress, their leaves
Easy food for the passing herds of goats
That will give white milk to the villagers
And warm red flesh to hungry stomachs
In the afternoon, bare hills breathe fire
Their trees stolen by greedy contractors
At night their thorn shrubs are set on fire
Leaving black stubble on the bleak faces.
Giant trucks rumble on a potholed road
With Tata and Okay on painted behinds.
Those with evil eye will have black faces
As their drivers stop for bath in the canal.