RAVANA, DEAD AGAIN
In a dusty field, a giant effigy of King Ravana
of Lanka, red as beet blood, lies slain.
His crown rusts. Swords blunt.
People gather around the papier-mâché corpse.
Once again, Rama has defeated
the leader of the Rakshasas.
Truth is, the Lord of Demons didn't stand a chance.
The ritual is older than some gods.
And the script is never diverted from.
Ramesh nudges me away from the festival.
The lamb is cooking, Shihara stirs the curry.
The children are hungry and restless.
One tosses a rough gray tennis ball against a wall.
Another fidgets like a mongoose.
Their attention spans are skinnier
than a fakir's lower leg.
I nibble on their food and their religion.
The meals are like hot coals on the tongue
and the ceremonies are colorfully grotesque.
To everything there's an acquired taste
or an acquired faith.
The more you eat, the more you believe.