The Missing


By Mangalesh Dabral 

In the urinals and other frequented places of this city
one still comes across posters of the missing people
who had left home quietly many years ago
at the age of ten or twelve.
They are shown possessing an average height,
complexion wheatish or dark, but never fair,
they wear rubber slippers,
a scar on the face from some old injury.
Their mothers still cry for them.
At the end of the posters is
etched an assurance for a suitable
reward to anyone providing the
news of the missing.

Yet no one can identify them;
they do not resemble the faded images
on those posters anymore.
Their initial sadness is now overwritten
with the endurance of suffering.
Their faces reflect the changing seasons of the city,
they eat little, sleep little, speak little,
their addresses keep changing,
facing the good and the bad days with equanimity.
They are in their own world,
looking with faint curiosity
at the posters recording them as missing,
that their parents still issue from time to time,
in which they continue to be
ten and twelve.

 Translation from original hindi poem Ghumshuda  by Asad Zaidi. The original poem appeared in the collection 
Kavi Ne Kaha (2010) by the poet.
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