By -

Sometimes in the dark of the night 
I visit my conscience  
To see if  it is still breathing 
For its dying a slow death
Every day.

When I pay for a meal in a fancy place 
An amount which is perhaps the monthly income 
Of the guard who holds the door open
And quickly I shrug away that thought
It dies a little 

When I buy vegetables from the vendor 
And his son "chhotu" smilingly weighs the potatoes 
Chhotu, a small child, who should be studying at school 
I look the other way
It dies a little.

When I am decked up in a designer dress
A dress that cost a bomb 
And I see a woman at the crossing
In tatters,trying unsuccessfully to save her dignity 
And I immediately  roll up my window
It dies a little 

When at Christmas I buy expensive gifts for my children 
On return,  I see half clad children 
With empty stomach and hungry eyes 
Selling Santa caps at red light 
I try to salve my conscience by buying some, yet
It dies a little 

When my sick  maid sends her daughter to work 
Making her bunk school 
I know I should tell her to go back 
But I look at the loaded sink and dirty dishes 
And I tell myself that is just for a couple of days 
It dies a little 

When I give my son the freedom 
To come home late from a party 
And yet when my daughter asks
I tell her it is not safe 
I raise my voice when she questions why 
It dies a little 

When I hear about a rape
or a murder of a child,
I feel sad, yet a little thankful that it's not my child
I can not  look at myself  in the mirror
It dies a little 

When people fight over caste creed and religion
I feel hurt and helpless
I tell  myself that my country is going to the dogs
I blame the corrupt politicians 
Absolving myself of all responsibilities 
It dies a little 

When my city is choked
Breathing is dangerous  in the smog ridden Delhi
I take my car to work daily 
Not taking  the metro,not trying car pool 
One car won't make a difference, I think 
It dies a little 

So when in the dark of the night
I visit my conscience 
And find it still breathing 
I am surprised 
For, with my own hands 
Daily, bit by bit, I bury it.


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