The color of hunger is flame-red.
The red you get from burning coals or wood
to start a fire.
You’d think cooking comes easy to village folks—
except, when you’re too poor to buy coals or wood.
Your actions soon turn into hundred shades of grey.
You learn in school that it’s nobler to starve than beg.
Except the fire within won’t give an inch of relief
as it eats you all the way. What does it take?
What does it take for a child to steal a jackfruit
in the dead of the night?
It’s easy to tiptoe to a neighbour’s garden
while mother at home drinks the Ganges
in lieu of a meal. A stomach demands to be filled.
You curb your shame and break off God’s forbidden fruit.
Then, to the market in the morning to sell it
for half a kilo of rice.
I’ll tell the famous poet that the world ends in fire, not ice.
Yet, you survive another day. Eat well.