Hum-safar: Fellow Traveller a poem by Javed Akhtar. Watch video

Hum-safar: Fellow Traveller a poem by Javed Akhtar. Watch video

Walking barefoot, On the scorching-searing road

Melting in the heat of the sun, Carrying their bundle of hunger and thirst

Both have set out from the Big City, To return to their small house in their small village

The house, That is far, far beyond. The strength of their feet, And the resolve in their heart

Who knows how far away? When the gates of the factory

Were shut in their faces, When the contractor

Threw them out of a partly constructed building.

Who was there to look after them? There was no hope on any path

The city was deserted, Every building seemed as though a stranger

All the houses and shops, Had their eyes closed

And in that city, Where they had toiled for years

These two, Were aliens. Even the Houses of all the Gods were locked, Where could one go to beg?

Only a silence echoed all around, Even those loudspeakers were silent now

That would tell them till yesterday, Who they were

And what their true and complete identity was, Listen to us, they would say, and understand:

They are the sons of Babur, And you are the son of a Maharana

Your history is different from theirs, Your values are different from theirs

Your faith is different from theirs, And those loudspeakers too were silent now

That used to say: They are the worshippers of idols

And you are the soldiers of Ghazni, You are the steadfast walkers on the true path

Your belief is different from theirs, Your hopes are different from theirs

Even your destination is different from theirs, Your paths, too, are different

All the loudspeakers dispensing such wisdom and knowledge

Are silent now, And the two of them can see

Their path is the same, Walking barefoot

On the scorching-searing road, Melting in the heat of the sun

Carrying their bundle of hunger and thirst, They have been walking like this for centuries

Both burning alive from the fire in their bellies, Now, both have realised

There are only two castes in the world: Rich and poor

All else are lies.

Javed Akhtar has written the scripts of several well-loved Hindi films, penned lyrics that have won him five National Awards and is a former Member of the Rajya Sabha. He received the Padma Bhushan in 2007.

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