Through the Slums, on a Tuk-Tuk by Brendan Walsh '10April 19, 2010
"I loved you alone and I loved the whole world"- Derek Walcott
One will never be the whole world.
Proverbs saturate the brain when places barely imaginable
present themselves - save one life and you save the world entire.
Though any life, whether loved or not, is ignored by the world here.
Where the lucky live off rice and dirty water
and ignorance of bullet-trains and high speed internet.
Garbage mountains seep innards of refuse into
corrugated-tin-roof homes, where indoor plumbing is runoff
flooding the streets from the city, not a standard luxury.
Agony is bare feet on sewage-laden dirt-streets, where displays
of love yield mild comforts lost in the car exhaust air.
Every thing seems trivial and world-crushing.
So what of love? If it is here it is neglectful,
or it is not what I hoped it to be. It has no physicality;
it is not in the warm dive of sex, clumps of steamed rice,
buckets of unfiltered river-water, miles of mud and steaming garbage.
Love does not forage in refuse, but hunger does. Love does not
hand a pocketful of rupees to a filthy tuk-tuk driver, but guilt does.
Maybe love masquerades as the corporeal, or love is a parasite,
or love is a failure of vocabulary.
Say a word enough times and it loses meaning.
Dark-brown children stand naked on the roadside. Unaware
of their bare genitals, distended bellies, and skeletal frames,
they deliver hints of white smiles at my passing tuk-tuk.
Hunger is companion. They starve smiling.
So what of love?