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Poem: The Line That Divides Us

Anay Mehta

Creeping and crawling,
Moving into the towns where children's eyes are bawling.
Slowly and sneaky, moving like a snake.
Never trying to give, but always trying to take.
Finds its place leaving a mark without a trace
As it covertly shifts the world at its own pace.
Sits sound and still, pulling the ground to a divide
As the rich start to rise and the poor start to hide.

Looking through the glass as I pass the slum
The shouting and pouting from outside silences to a hum.
Dharavi, the largest slum in the world
And as I saw the way and the display of how they lived, my stomach started to twirl.
The aromatic smell of Mumbai covered the air,
As the people move in commotion without a care.
I take in the beautifully dirty city filled with,
vendors, spenders, money lenders and kids wearing suspenders
And felt powerless as I stayed in my bubble.
Witnessing the straight-faced children causing no trouble as they walked in the rubble.
Even my driver couldn’t take it, his speed started to double.

We zoomed past the area, and after just 3 miles
It felt like another world, no more trash piles
Or forced smiles mixed with dirty, greasy hairstyles.
With the image of the slums engraved in my mind
I stared out the window for some distraction to find.
I see a building so lavish, so perfectly designed
But as I remember the slums I felt even more confined.
The pretty walls and windows were a shade brown
The same color of water you could find a few miles down
As the rich stay on top wearing their crowns
They can see all the slums if they just look around.
The 27 floors sit on top of each other
Only 27 rupees in the pocket of the others.
They would walk, beg, and pray to turn the 27 to a 30
Buy some rice for the family at home and almost faint on the journey.
I continued to gaze at the building looking for some kind of purpose
It looked like a hotel, office, or restaurant if you looked at the surface.
And I pestered my driver with questions, asking Who, What, When, and How?
And when his answers made sense, my heart dropped.
It wasn’t a restaurant,
or hotel, or office, or a shopping mall, or even some kind of government building...

It was a home,
For one family.
Just One.
The entire building.
The richest family in the whole nation,
Lived 3 miles down from India’s poorest location.
A billion dollar home made with fine glass and chrome
Right next to the slums made of cheap styrofoam.
I remember the school children walking with their feet bare
As Antilia towers the people, a middle finger in the air.

(Anay Mehta, I am a Anay Mehta is a tenth grader from Andover and attends Phillips Academy. )

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