I clean the shoes on their feet
That they thrust at my 7-year old face
But I understand, he’s a city man
My little hands dare not make him late.
I wake up to work, I walk to work
I sleep only so that I can work
When I get to work I’m beaten to work,
Even though I never stop,
Harder, faster, better or beating
I eat whatever makes me work.
From welding metal, to cementing houses,
To sitting for hours in a hot windowless room,
Beading away though my legs are so numb,
On the dress of a bride or groom.
Exhaustion and wounds are my state of health,
My lungs heave with unknown disease,
Coaxed away from my burdened parents in the village,
I live in the city, under plastic sheets.
I eat headache balm spread on fungal bread
Yes the taste was first too hard to take
But my friends and I seem to like it now
‘Cause it puts us into a mechanical state.
Entranced we work till the darkness sets,
Like noiseless, numb machines
And yes ofcourse, the chemical breakfast
Is our day’s only meal.
Mud and bricks and metal bars,
Needles and garbage or heavy machines,
From morning to night, they fill my arms,
As boys run past with books and ice creams.
One day we were awarded an hour’s break,
So I leaned back on the factory’s outer wall,
Looking at the buildings, and roads and shimmering dresses,
And thought: I had a hand in them all!
But as I looked at my hands,
Bruised and rough, like a tired old man’s,
I wondered: Is a hand in them all I will have?
What I was to shed as tears for my predicament,
I shed it all as sweat.
But suddenly, I was surprised to find,
A tear slowly creep out of my eyes,
How could it be? I asked myself
But then I realized…
It was from my eyes that I sweat… in my hour of rest.