I walk to a grocer
In a small lane selling commodities as a labor of love
It is a tiny front – which unlike
The wishing wells or magician hats
Of Keels, Laughs or Cargills supermarkets
Does not provide bonanzas and windfalls
Of stock take, practicing the muscle of plastic
In front of a cashier in uniform
For this small façade is like
An organ like the gall bladder or the thymus
Facing extinction yet still working miracles
Of survival and care

The mudalali (vendor) can be seen
Sarong clad and sporting a smile beneath the moustache
His tummy is prosperous and his liptop follicles
Industrious with a Tamil Nadu flavor
Selling land races of rice – Pokkali and Rathu Heenati
Which are nutrition-packed
And flush easy down diabetic tributaries
And mix well with pancreatic juices

And as time erodes the small man
And as supermarkets rise above street lights
Common man uproots his commoner heritage
And loiters to the fluorescent-lit, shelf-packed
Megapolises of commodities
After all this is a meeting place of bodies
In the absence of eye-contact
A place where price reigns and stock drains
Down open apertures
Of polythene carrier bags

And all the while
The vendor in the grocery looks baffled – as he wonders …
Who will fill fiber and flesh on his childrens’ bony frames
And who will repair the leaky roof
And mend the broken toilet bowl
After all, in this part of town
Indomitable godzillas engulf industrious ants
And the stare of consumerism
Erases the gaze-contact beneath a transaction
When ant trails are lost to acres of car parks

When the barter of a smile
Is lost forever, when obscurity is embattled
In the extinction game
When closure is a verb with spit-power
Falling off the ledge of lips
And survival is selling a little package of human touch
In small volumes and at the lowest price

After all in these oceans of mega-commercialism
Whales are rampant, sharks are merciless
And the krill are sinking through
Baleen and teeth, down black holes
Of no return.