There is no sound more ironic than the opening a coke can
moments before entering into a slum.
A conglomerate of carbonation
crushing towards the corners of cups
that flow-eth over with milk, honey,
and the justified envious tensions between
those who have and those who have not.
I picked up my privilege,
and let the remnants of imperialism cool me off
on a hot monsoon day in Mumbai.
A half filled coke can representing dichotomies
between class systems that go generations without meeting.
And here I am, visiting their community.
Crowds gathered around in curiosity and adoration
and for a split second I thought to myself
“this is how movements are built”
this is how political participation makes
lives grow fonder of democratic processes,
that give voice to the masses,
choice to the multitudes,
power to the people—
only—I was wrong.
Outsiders entering into communities of the oppressed
for only 5 seconds at a time doesn’t build movements.
It doesn’t augment lives and produce
opportunities for class systems to access upward mobilities,
No! it only turns adoration and curiosity into anger.
Logical, rationalized, justified anger.
And in this community bible scriptures are negligible,
the only rule for youth is to be angry and sin.
So stones were thrown,
angry stones were thrown for the government
who tore down his mother’s home and livelihood,
governments who neglect people who build houses
on dumping grounds where a cities trash becomes
closer than your next door neighbor,
angry stones were thrown because
right outside of her grandmothers tent
exists a trail of feces, that was once the only place left where
one could walk without having to play hop-scotch
with dreams of yesterdays already digested lunch.
Angry stones were thrown because little siblings
don’t have enough space to play pity-patty
without being knee deep in sewage water,
and their communities are flooded with rain water,
and kids drown in entrenched waters,
and clean water is as far as crusted eyes can reach.
And I remember for 5 seconds,
I remember that stones are necessary…
stones are only tools to build ones way out of homelessness,
homelessness that great grandparents
and little grandchildren are born with,
and I remember for 5 seconds that I too
live in a house built with stones,
that I too have bowel movements,
and tears, and skin that covers red blood
that bleeds out without protection from stones
that flew through the air,
out of an angry child’s hand,
and hit me in the back of head. Stones.
No. this is not how movements are built.
This is not how lives are made better
and systemic reform achieved.
I stepped out of their community,
lifting my coke can to my mouth and hesitating for 5 seconds,
before finishing off the acidic liquid.
No one told me that swimming in pools of gray would be so ironic.
And even now,
I have no right to be angry,
because I was born with pockets
filled with stones.