A Different Lesson

On some days
Children returning from school
See her in the dump yard
Sorting through bottles of cold drinks,
Wrappers of chocolates and chips
That she has never tasted
On other days
She can be seen
Holding a bunch of balloons
Or sometimes plastic toys
That parents buy from her
For their children
She is different from the other kids
She does not care for balloons or toys
Life has taught her differently
So she smiles when
She feels the coins in her pocket
Because today she wouldn’t
Have to hear her stomach rumbling
Then on special days
Like Independence Day or Republic Day
She stands at traffic lights
With armfuls of little flags
Of the nation
That let her down.

Maliha Iqbal is a student and writer based in Aligarh, India. Many of her short stories, write-ups, letters and poems have been published on platforms like Creativity Webzine, Countercurrents, Café Dissensus, Cerebration and Borderless Journal. She can be reached at malihaiqbal327@gmail.com

Featured image: Gene Brutty / Unsplash