Fairytale of matchboxes



Looking down from the window
of your twenty-second floor apartment,
the slums beside the canal look like frail match-boxes.

Littering the land with old empty bottles,
soiled rags, rotten food, stools, pads,
they are an open embarasment,
all the left overs of your perfumed body
that should be hidden and quickly flushed away,
as if they never existed.

Even looking down makes you feel sick,
more of a menace to the environment
than the giant chimneys and car exhaust,
you should think.

Then one hot summer night,
the AC is not working and you can’t sleep,
you watch the machine approach with venegance,
the frail match-boxes crumbling, collapsing
and being swept away under its huge arms,
little children with their weak, thin limbs
clinging onto their mother’s sarees,
their eyes big with hunger and fear.

The only way you fight their hunger
is by silencing them,
by tearing out their bony limbs, mouths, breasts
and tossing them into the canal
with their empty bottles,
soiled rags and rotten food.

The sun shines on a new paradise
leansed of the past that almost never was,
and on the land of silenced hunger
where the souls of matchboxes have an unwept grave,
comes up the mall like a ghost with neon eyes.

A year or two later,
when you are watching from your window,
the mother with her toddler filling the cart
with books of fairytales
in the multi-brand retail store,
you wonder if she is, like you,
hearing the same cries
of the children who once lived in match-boxes.

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