The humble earthen lamp

The humble earthen lamp---
Fragile, brittle in rough and cruel hands,
Of clay baked
And fortified in furnace-fire,
Then shaped and painted
By the veined potter’s expert hands;
The little lamp from rural India
Small and insignificant relic
For the gentrified,
Lights up the dark sanctum sanctorum
Of a temple for its faithful
In the early nights,
Radiating light before the
Idols of the big-eyed gods and goddesses
Sought by the eager believers,
As a flickering vessel of precious tiny light,
On wintry moonless nights,
Illuminates a dirt trek faintly visible
To human eyes in the dancing shadows
Where whistling ghosts reside,
In the open meadows or the fields unlit,
Vast and spread-out,
This little diya
By sitting in the alcove of a village shrine
Placed by a compassionate guy,
In a little alcove
On a rude platform,
Under a brooding banyan tree that guards the forking paths
To a village being slowly deserted by its young and the able-bodied,
It symbolizes hope and the path to a loving modest home.

Sunil Sharma

Sunil Sharma's picture

Freelance journalist, academic, writer and poet, Sunil is from India and published poems, fiction and a novel. He is also literary editor, reviewer, interviewer and critic. He is a bilingual writer who deals with current Indian realities and a globalised world and its impact on his country.

Last updated October 18, 2011