I’m Almost Home, Baba

On April 18, 12-year-old Jamlo Makdam of Bijapur district in Chattisgarh died about 14 km from home after walking for days from Telangana where she worked in the chilli fields.

I think I can see our village
shimmering in the heat
in the distance.

Just wait for me
don’t start your lunch yet, Baba,
I am coming to join you all 
Have been walking for three days now
my throat is parched
I will need a
glass of cold water
and plenty of rice, Baba,
with some khatti bhaji and
red chutney 
you all have enough rice, na, Baba?

I have been dreaming about
all the dishes Ma cooks
I am very hungry, haven’t eaten much
for the past three days.

You heard of the lockdown, na, Baba
big disease coming they said,
get out, get out
no work suddenly, nothing to eat.
So we began walking,
no time to rest Baba,
my feet are sore,
and pricked by thorns,
we walked in the jungles
to avoid roads and police.

When I reach, I’ll pet our
goat and hug my little brother.
Then I will sit down to eat
and won’t be finished till all the food is finished.

You will widen your eyes in surprise,
‘oh, you finished all the rice’
You will ruffle my hair,
and we will all laugh!

Umang Kumar is a writer based in the National Capital Region of Delhi

Featured image: Representative image/Shome Basu