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Polo

There is the dump where the chicken bits would rot in the open air. Nearby, a wine shop and a wall where men line up to piss into the drain. Across the road, the women stand, waiting for cars, in front of the butchers’ shops. For some reason, I hated this place as a child, inheriting bias for the squalor and the smells. I always said it was a place for mutants because of the old woman whose back was so crooked she walked with her face downwards. She frightened me in her white sari then – which now is pure and poor in the mind, now a symbol of resilience. Polo was also where I saw the man in tattered clothes with one enlarged ear lobe that hung like an earring on the side of his face. He was always coughing and I would make a face whenever I saw him, unable to stomach the sight. I do not see him anymore. Here too, I would see the woman with the asymmetrical face, her left side slightly drooping. I do not see these people anymore and I want to, now. Now I think about them and, of course, I think about myself then. Then, I wanted to see Polo mowed down and yes, they have tried so many times to do that. Polo, after all, is unsightly and lumbering and diseased and its people pollute the river that runs alongside the length of it. Yet somehow the crazy people, the poor rag-pickers, the broken men and the bad women manage to roil every time under the boot. Every time the debris crumbles into a familiar position, these people find their place again; every year there is flooding and the moment it subsides they are out again- just a matter of shoveling out the slime, I suppose. Polo seems to have a place for everyone in the way a Church is supposed to be.

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