Portraits of Delhiwallahas

Security Guards

keep standing day and night
guarding you
our masters
we salute you
whenever you pass by
and sometimes reluctantly, you ask-
‘how are you’ and move on,
do you really want to know the answer?


Toiling day and night
for a paltry sum
imagine a day without us
yet we remain invisible silhouettes
in Delhi’s paradoxical world.



Our face, smudged with charcoal
our clothes, saggy and torn
our days lost amidst a heap of garbage
searching for nirvana in discarded tin cans
nearby a stinking slum
our home
waiting to be bulldozed
into a ten lane highway.



Cornered in cramped cloisters
loaded with dusty files
subordinated with conduct rules
tamed with annual appraisal reports
bureaucrats shine outside
inside incarcerated inmates
ever waiting for redemption.


A Flower Girl

Bare to the bone
in tattered garb
with freshness of adolescence
on my face
I stand amidst the traffic
bouquets of roses in my tender hands
red, yellow, pink and white
picked up from the graveyard nearby,
waving, begging, hoping
someone would buy my flowers,
oh! a cab driver beckons me
bargains, I plead
take my flowers
he pulls me nearer
I jerk back with disgust
my clothes torn
flowers scattered
I gather myself
then flowers
and start again
pleading, hoping.


A Delhi Immigrant

Who brought me into this world
and why,
I asked everyone everyday,
one day I left my village
for finally finding the answer
and arrived in Delhi
I asked everyone everyday
who brought me into this world
and why,
jaundiced, exhausted, almost dead
one day I got my answer
from Mrs. and Mr. Singh of Defence Colony-
‘you were brought into this world
because of a quirk of fate
and for serving us till your death,’
I got enlightenment
returned to my village
now the villagers call me ‘Buddhu’ (idiot)
the enlightened one.


(Abhay K., a poet-diplomat is the author of eight books including five poetry collections. , nominated for the Pushcart Prize, His forthcoming poetry collection ‘Seduction of Delhi’ pays homage to his beloved city Delhi.)

Author Profile

Abhay K
Abhay K
Cdr. Abhay Singh is a Research Fellow at the Military Affairs Centre in the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. He is an Indian Navy veteran with extensive command and staff experience spanning 27 years. A surface warfare officer with a specialisation in Missile and Gunnery Warfare, he has commanded various naval platforms which include frontline frigate, submarine rescue & deep diving vessel, and fleet auxiliary. He has also served as Director (Military Affairs) in the Disarmament and International Security Division of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Cdr. Singh is an alumnus of the Naval Academy, Defence Services Staff Course and Naval War College. He has an MSc (Defence and Strategic Studies) from the University of Chennai and an MPhil from Mumbai University.

His publications include: “Maritime Exclusion Zone: Legal Perspectives and Strategic Option,” Maritime Affairs, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 2008), 79–111; “Cross LOC Strike and India’s Reputation for Resolve”, IDSA Comment, October 21, 2016; “The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 – The Long Journey of an Important Maritime Legislation”, IDSA Comment, October 03, 2016.