The Saplings Sellers

The saplings sellers
Near the crooked road,
On the dusty uneven ground,
Sit the sapling sellers,
Immigrants from another
Far-off Indian dusty town,
Leading a tough life of survivors,
In suburban Mumbai;
The nights are spent under the
Plastic sheets,
The days under a harsh sky,
The road a washroom,
They cook their meager meals,
Of coarse daal-rice,
On the open fires,
On the corner of their
Improvised shop,
Away from the curious eyes
Of sanctimonious middle class;
The three impoverished men,
In lungis and vests,
Sit and watch the traffic rushing by,
Faces gaunt, beards grey,
Skeletal figures,
Popping eyes,
Wasting away slowly,
In the heartless country,
These three sapling sellers illiterate;
Their varied saplings tender and slim,
Giving a vivid green
To the grey concrete around;
The dancing flowers and shoots,
An assortment of plants,
Local and exotic,
Forming a natural oasis,
In the smog-filled landscape,
Giving an instant visual relief,
To the tired commuters,
Honking on the hyper-street,
Devoid of flowers and graceful trees.
Folks come in fancy cars
And haggle mercilessly for few rupees,
For the potted plants and the ornamental flowers
For their posh drawing rooms,
The men too argue,
Then settle for the low prices,
As selling something is better
Than selling nothing,
In this City of Dreams.

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About Sunil Sharma

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 22 published books: Seven collections of poetry; three of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award---2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015. Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA: For more details, please visit the website:

4 thoughts on “The Saplings Sellers

  1. Louis Kasatkin

    Compassionate , magisterial , ” The Saplings Sellers ” does what a poem does best;delivering a searing indictment against our own complacency. Edmund Burke’s oft quoted aphorism on “the good,(i.e. those in positions of power and authority) men” still holds true; the condition and circumstances of the poem’s sapling sellers prevails because “good men” choose to do nothing about them.

  2. Dom

    I like this piece of poem by Sunil Sharma, just not because it is a very sensible and readable poem, but because it has a very sensual meaning I felt is flowing, portraying those Indian and Nepalese streets I have seen. It particularly reminded me of my days back in Nepal and at least few states of India I have been to. What a great poetry of what a poet sees in real life everyday. Thank you Sunil sir for this poem. It inspired me.-Dom

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