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lollipop pink helmets


The tombs of the Lodi kings in Delhi
Outrageous even for Delhi- a child riding a Vespa!
Down the neem avenue next to dusty Afghan tombs 
flanked by Royal palms (commanded by Lady Willingdon)
A smaller child pillion riding, perky with new-oiled  hair
squashed like mash potato
between paratha of driver and a cushiony elder 
with hips and arms a handy airbag 
for the precious filling,
the matchstick head  guarded by two lollipop pink helmets.
Wait! The driver is a woman, not a lawless child, 
a sedate tiny slight as a 12 year old, steering slow and steady 
in choking traffic, bearing her mother and son to INA market
for Diwali bombs and sparklers.
Imagine her weighing her budget 
packing lunch for husband self and son,
dropping the boy to Busy Bees, after which she buzzes off to work
leading orderly days in this disorderly city
where no one cares for small people.

But this woman has grasped the reins for three lives on her scooter
trusting her thin arms, her legs in tight jeans
tiny feet in sandals,
balancing the precious cargo, waiting at red lights.
Tonight she will light candles and  diyas
Perform aarti round the household gods, 
offering up her present cargo hostage to Lakshmi,
perambulating her flame for health wealth and happiness,
cupped tight in her small-boned hands. 
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