Soldier Without A Uniform

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He stopped me and he stopped a foot from me
And excused me for disturbing my stride
And he said that he was a Lance Corporal (in civvies) someone
And that he had left his purse behind:
“In the bus that I got off from, there
At Borella junc. I had given my bag to a lady
And I forgot to pick it back on”.

Said, “Sir, I am on my way to Vavuniya,
The bus fare is all I want”, I said,
“But, I will give you money to Fort
Where one of your camps you can stop by to doat”,
He said — “No, but without identification,
They will detain me” so on and on. And I lied that
I had no money on me, cos from an ATM
I had the money to be drawn.

“260 rupees” he said, is all he wants,
Dark face, eyes almost at the edge of tears.
“Money to Fort” I promised, 13 rupees,
And I said it again — he may have to supplicate his peers.
Held out a ten rupee and a five rupee coin
And I told him it is 9 bucks from the following halt.
He thanked and he took it and on he went
— If, indeed, he is a soldier — to where his duty called.



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