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The City of Wonders



i. My father comes in drunk tonight,

Like every other night

Creating a ruckus, hurling slangs

And hitting mother, like he hired her

For the sole purpose of doing so

I might as well stay hungry tonight.


ii. The one thousand eight hundred

And twenty three rupees

That mother had saved for my school

Have been spent on the funeral

On father's funeral rites

I might as well not go to school this year.


iii. Today, I married the girl

Who lives in far end of the village

But mother has thrown us out

She does not like my wife,

Because her name is Noor

I might as well have to get a new house.


iv. Four hundred and eighteen miles from home

They call it "The City of Wonders"

It has been nineteen days since we moved here

And I am yet to see a wonder

Or is it reserved only for the rich?

I might as well wait for some more days.


v. It is my fifty sixth day here

And the sun is shining bright in my eyes

I did receive my share of wonder

I have a hut, and I have a job -

Bricks, sand, cement, chips

I might as well build some houses for the rich.


vi. Five hundred and twelve days

In The City of Wonders

This place has been lucky for me

Noor is going to be a mother

And as overwhelming as it is for me

I might as well be a father.


vii. Our daughter is five

We have named her Shyaama

After my mother

I wonder if she misses me, if she's still alive

But I know she despises us

I might as well just stay quiet for now.


viii. Noor complains that all of her friends

Have new sarees for Diwali every year

But I haven't ever gifted her anything

How do I buy anything

When Seth Ji pays just a hundred rupees?

I might as well start working double shifts now.


ix. Noor has gone back to the village with Shyaama

Her father passed away two days ago

She was really furious that I did not go with them

She kept saying that I did not respect her father

But neither of my Seth Jis allowed me a leave

I might as well bear Noor's wrath.


x. Two months since Noor has been away

She said her father died of cough and fever

It felt really weird to me

The City of Wonders' sunset

Doesn't really feel as wonderful now

I might as well just miss Noor and Shyaama.


xi. They say there's a new virus in the country

I did not think it would come to our city

But today both my Seths told me that

They have to let me off my jobs

I have no idea how to break this to Noor

I might as well just disappoint her one more time.


xii. I have not seen my wife and my daughter

In nearly four months now

I have no food or money left

They are not letting me go back to my village

I do not know if I can ever meet my family

I might as well just die in The City of Wonders.

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