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Stay at Home

Stay at Home
Sayandeep Das

I was used to it,
used to the unrelenting nights
and the blinding sun,
making my eyes water.

I was used to it,
the roars of ‘get off my property”
and the disgusted ‘get a job!’,
whispered under bated breath,

I was used to it,
feeling the cold spit hurled onto my face,
too ashamed to even meet their gaze,

I was even used to the blunt, filthy needle
and the tainted smoke slowing seeping into my lungs.
I was used to the prison cells
and sleeping hidden in hotel lobbies,
societies greatest secret.

I was used to it,
the humiliation,
debasing myself,
for anything
and shutting it out of my deranged mind
the next day,
barely human.

I was used to being the garbage can
of people’s woes and despairs
and their half-eaten crusts.

But I was never used to this,
handed home for a night,
I was never used to …
I was never used to drinking from cups
but only from the sweet sewers,

But I had gotten too used to this,
I should have seen the unseen.

“Stay at home!” they’d said.
They had used me!
the homeless one,
to scare little children,
scared of my sallow face,
every shadowy crevice,
holding a fresh horror.

What could I do?
The homeless one?
Society thinks I’m heartless
and home is where
the heart is.

“Stay at home!” they’d said
But only to let the same ones
who had stuffed me up then like an animal?
And pushed a camera in my face,
to throw me back into the grips of some mysterious virus,
I couldn’t even see?

What could I do?
the homeless one?
but wander the streets
left out to wither away
and let this infected society,
spit on me once again.