Palaniappan herds cows in the hills near Theni;
school he is enrolled in does not have a teacher,
windows gaping holes that offer entry to goats,
their pellets under tables still soft,
bulbs hang from exposed wires,
toilet is the bush beyond the banyan tree.
His father insists that he sits a few hours
at school with the children of the village –
mass of oily heads, sweaty bodies, loud vocal cords.
The day at school is done,
Murugan who owns the street corner tea shop
comes to ring the bell, in the belt
that holds his lungi at waist is the Tamil Daily
rolled tight as a baton to swat flies,
the Daily carries this headline:
Right to Education Bill effective from April.