Friday, November 4, 2016

Tejasvi Saxena writes

Anatomy of a Rickshaw-Wallah's Dream 

"On bustling routes of old Dehli
In dallying reverie of autumnal dusk
I met a figure discerned from folks;
A Rickshaw-Wallah
Who meanders in search of his bourgeoisie masters 

A gaunt face of aged life
A gleam of wisdom in ancient eyes
He chatters with the swiftness of a gay child
And often wears a grin wide 

He lapses into musings
His musings on life
While fancying the harlotry of bygone times 

For his were few dreams and a life to hone
Afar, floating in recesses of ocean
They rise with tides' nocturnal swings
and brim on brink of undercurrents 

The flimsy frivolities of tenderness
To live on the side of an ocean's bay
Entangling his experienced fingers
In a tangled mesh of a fisher's net 

And ferrying his past through oars of perseverance;
He wished to sing the rhapsodies of Majhi
While sailing a boat against buffets of wind 

The trail of imageries droops
As drops of elixir from reminiscent tongue
The betel stained teeth of his
Often are shown
and gaps in between
Defy his mourn

Of living in urban ghettos
Of a paunch that groans
Of sighs belittling his nomadism
Of identities he's reasserted with
Of glances of condescension he's cast upon 

He pulls his rickshaw on crowded lanes
Carrying shadows of counterparts
Who haggle for a few coins with him
Unacquainted of promises he veiled in his heart

I reckon his flight of flaying dreams
Carrying behind his tattered rag;
As too precious to be sold
In the market of dreams
That his eyes behold."

 The Rickshaw Puller -- Ekta Singha


  1. After the shogun’s ban on wheeled vehicles was lifted, Izumi Yosuke, inspired by the horse carriages that had been introduced to Tokyo a few years earlier, invented a passenger cart in Tokyo in 1869 and formed a partnership with Suzuki Tokujiro and Takayama Kosuke to build the vehicles; the following year they obtained the right to build and sell them. A light, two-wheeled cart consisting of a doorless, chairlike body mounted on springs with a collapsible hood and two shafts, finished in black lacquer-ware over timber, it was drawn by a single runner and by1872 it largely replaced the sedan chair as the main mode of transportation in Japan, with about 40,000 in service. In 1873 it was introduced into China and was used for public transportation the following year; within a year 10,000 of them were in operation; by 1880 they appeared in Singapore and Simla, India. However, the term “rickshaw” (from “jinrikisha” [human + power + vehicle]) did not appear until 1887. As peasants migrated into the cities, their first job was often pulling a rickshaw, though it may have been the deadliest occupation. Generally, runners covered 32 to 48 km (20 to 30 mi) per day. The cycle rickshaw (pedicab) was invented in the 1880s and was being regularly used in Singapore in 1929; during the 1930s it was in use in Kolkata and Dhaka, India, and Jakarta, Indonesia; and by 1950 it was universal throughout Asia. In China and Japan, the rickshaw's popularity began to decline in the 1920s, but it increased in Singapore, which had 50,000 of them in 1920 and 100,000 by 1930. By 2000, Dhaka had 300,000 of them, and by 2013 Delhi, India, had 100,000 electric rickshaws. In the 21st century three-wheeled, two-passenger auto rickshaws (velotaxis) revived the industry.

    Majhi (“central”) is the standard Punjabi dialect of the Majha region of India between the Beas and Ravi rivers and in central Pakistani Punjab. It was where the Sikh Empire was founded.

  2. When visiting India about 12 years ago I was told that human rickshaw men were allowed only in Calcutta (Kolkata) and only in certain parts. Everywhere else three-wheeled mini taxis were the transportation for those who couldn't afford buses or taxis.

  3. Thank you so very much Duane for this beautiful description. It has embellished my poem all the more.

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