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lollipop pink helmets

Outrageous even for Delhi- a child riding a Vespa!
Down the neem avenue next to dusty Afghan tombs
flanked by Royal palms (stipulated by Lady Willingdon)
A smaller child pillion riding, perky with new-oiled hair
squashed like mashed potato
between paratha of driver and one other, a cushiony elder
her hips and arms making an airbag
for the precious filling
the matchstick head guarded by two lollipop pink helmets.
The tombs of the Lodi kings in Delhi
But then I see the driver is a woman, not a lawless child, 
sedate tiny slight as a 12 year old steering slow and steady
in the choking traffic bearing mother and son to INA market
for Diwali bombs and sparklers.
I imagine her weighing her budget,
packing lunch for husband self and son,
dropping the boy to school, buzzing 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.
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.
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