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 riding pillion, perky with new-oiled hair
and squashed like mash potato
between paratha of driver and the other, a cushiony elder's
hips and arms making an airbag
for the precious filling,
Matchstick head guarded by two lollipop pink helmets.
But I see the driver is a grown woman, not a lawless child,
Sedate, tiny, slight as a 12 year old, steering slow and steady
through the 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 off the boy at Busy Bees, buzzing off to work
leading orderly days in this disorderly metropolis
where no one cares for small people.
But this woman has grasped the reins for three lives on her Vespa
trusting her thin arms, her legs in tight jeans
tiny feet in sandals,
balancing the precious cargo, waiting at red lights.
And tonight she'll light candles and diyas
Do aarti round the household gods,
offering her cargo hostage to Lakshmi,
perambulating her flame for health wealth and happiness,
cupped tight in her small-boned hands.