When you saw him in his crumpled fatigue
On railway platforms, slurping his tea
Hurriedly from his saucer, and then flee
Shouldering his bag and tromping his feet
To catch his rum-reserved seat.
Seldom in your mind a moment you spared
Even knowing he was ill-paid and uncared.
You gave him no more thought than you may
To a light a candle at mid day.
Then one day on the border the guns boomed
Suddenly on your TV screen he loomed
Humping his load, climbing, metre by metre
Along with Pritam, Purohit, Parvez and Peter
A silent symbol of India, a true secularist
He marched ahead to keep a tryst.
Cold and wet, poorly garbed
Unmindful, his face gritty and barbed
Never the one to question or ask