*Living the Dream by Ash Sharma
The Ganga rushing through the land
Sheets of rain cutting the oppressive humidity,
Orange men scavenging for souls.
Ashes in hand.
Dad was an Albion man,
Home in the black country
Never to return.
Remember those summer days -
Dudley Zoo and Blackpool Pier.
The odd pint of Guinness with his spars.
No dreams of gold in the mother country
Only small brown envelopes on Fridays.
ICI, Dunlop, GKN don’t remember.
Empires crumbling, workers welcomed.
Invisible men to the end.
Dirty jobs to do, lives to be lived
Love to be found, friends to be made.
‘Smelly coolie’, ‘fucking Paki’.
They are just jealous.
Be wise. Dad knew much, said little.
Look them in the whites of their eyes
This is home.
Stand and deliver. Laugh out loud.
Tears flowing, memories flooding.
‘Is this all he’s worth?’
Holy men with calculators
Standing guard on the river’s edge, soiled with foreign currencies.
Ashes escaping in the torrent
Holding back the rage and sorrow.
England’s dreaming again.
Time to go, forget the gods
No sacred cows, only polluted rivers
And temples to the rich.
Back in Handsworth Park,
Haridwar, another time, another place
This poem was first published in the blog Southern Discomfort. Reproduced with permission.