Portrait of Poverty

Bandana Bhattarai

Is there a limit to excellence?

Here, after the growls of hunger, memories of mice linger.
Let me read his portrait of poverty –
In my mouth, I learned ‘ka’ and ‘kha’.
While he learned ‘ka’ along with the plow and the spade.
We walked together,
Bearing the weight of a dream heavy as a mountain,
I understood questions and answers,
He questioned whether the road is paved, the field cultivated, and the sky open.
When the new class began,
New books
New clothes
New shoes
Everything was new during that time,
But for him,
In his old books, adorned with new songs,
There was a different lesson to be learned.
In the classroom,
He always bought the last book,
His answers, numbers, always newer and above all,
He conquered the thick book outside,
Which none of us noticed.
We had many differences and a little similarity,
The similarity was our survival strategy,
To survive, we read,
He survived to eat,
He learned to build himself.
His struggles were small yet intense,
But why do his eyes not show disappointment?
I questioned myself,
He was my friend; I was his friend,
With restricted dreams, I was greatly afraid,
I said, “Dreams that cannot be fulfilled are not worth cherishing.”
He Read to me and said, “There is no limit to excellence.”
He laughed with his eyes,
And his heart cried,
And he said,
“Penury did not give me a mother,
Poverty never even gave me two meals,
But poverty taught me the journey of hunger,
Taught me to dream,
Made me as happy as I am now.”
Magic does not happen in the pockets of a defeated man,
He loosens up,
But in the fists of a fighting man, there is the essence of excellence.
Crying is necessary,
We must fight the battle of hunger,
And we must win.
If he wins,
History will someday teach us something, won’t it?