He sniffed everyone passing by.
Their scents, their dangling handbags,
And looked up at them, with pleading eyes…
The heartless drove him away, kids pelted stones at him,
Out of disgust, of fear or rage, scaring him to death.
Away he ran and stood staring at their backs as they walked on…
They looked at him, but didn’t bother to acknowledge his gaze.
The bones poking out of his skin went unnoticed.
Dying of hunger he was, but when has the rich understood that…
It was getting dark and for hours he had stood restless,
Hoping if someone would throw a few biscuits or dried rotis,
Or just some unusable rotting trash that he would devour with pleasure.
At last, when people thinned out of the street,
An old man dragged his feet who looked toward him.
A few seconds of eye meeting the eye, and he shyly wagged his tail…
Slowly, the old man went down the street turning around a corner to his hut,
That the dog had followed him, he had known.
But before stepping in, the old man turned to look at him.
With a slight glimmer of hope,
the dog wagged his tail, a bit vigorously this time…
Having spent days thirsty and starved himself,
The old man knew that look on the dog’s face all too well.
In a crooked plate, he fetched all that was left – dried pieces of bread,
And a coconut shell that held salt water just taken off the flame.
One by one, dipping the bread in the water,
He threw them all in the dog’s direction.
With such haste he swallowed them down.
His eyes met the old man’s once again as he rested at the hut’s doorway…
Kindness doesn’t cost much you would think.
But tell you what, kindness comes for a price.
One ate to his stomach’s content,
Hardly aware of the old man’s plight.
The other would sleep with hunger
now clinging onto his back…
Just as it had traveled on the dog’s,
for days, restless and concealed.
For as long as there’s negligence,
satiated, it never will be.
© Asha Seth