Day 17

Reader’s Note
by Mandy Berry

Background: For the past month, my English class has been reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, a work of immersive journalism. We have had group discussions for every few chapters, as well as handouts that we were expected to complete in advance of them. This is my account of how hard it was to complete one such handout.

Five questions is all I need.
I have one so far,
but it’s about the Author’s Note,
and this book is very
There’s nothing mysterious,
nothing discussion-worthy
about this Mumbai slum
that we haven’t discussed
Every discussion has been
the same:
“Asha’s so corrupt.
Has Abdul given up?
All of Annawadi
is dejected,
but still believing
in a distant ideal
of hope.
We’re all so lucky;
we don’t know what that’s like

Except I do.

Looks like I need
a first-world mind
in order to complete this work –
where can I find that?
And will I still understand
the detachment
and distress
and humanity
of the slumdwellers
when I do?

I can’t complete this paper.
I would have to be objective.

But the question that I do have persists:
If Annawadi can’t represent
all of Mumbai,
why study it at all?
Why would you make me
understand them
more than I understand my peers?


To My Father
by S.A. Bowden

As we sit in the
hotel room, I feel like I
should talk to you– there’s
so much we could and should talk
about, don’t you agree, Dad?


by Rachel Pontious

It happened again
It didn’t just happen,
I did it.
It runs through my mind like an electrical impulse
As my stomach drops–

In a familiar maze
I know where I have to go.
It’s ingrained in my mind.
I dash through the maze
Over and over.
Every time I reach the end
I’m at the beginning again.
I no longer have a reason to keep running.
But I can’t stop.


Endless, endless
A dark splotch on pristine white.
That no comforting thoughts can erase.
I hate it.
An imperfection I’m incapable of accepting.

I fill with anger
When others deal me blows.
But now I am the one dealing the blows.
I must atone.
I can’t be like them.

It’s not the deed.
It’s what comes after.



by Mya Smith

My hair, my face, my body
They’re all so ugly and imperfect.
I tell myself this every day.
Why do I feel this way?
Why do I put myself down?

Everyone tells me I am beautiful,
But why can’t I see that in me?
Why don’t I see the beauty?
What is beauty really?
Is beauty me? Am I beauty?

So many questions…
Will one day I see the beauty that
Everyone else sees?
Will I one day appreciate my beauty?


Sam Yoseph

Loud sirens
With bright traffic lights.
Trains ride past
And the drilling of construction.

Someone drums
With a hat next to them for change.
A bystander joins
And plays the violin violently.

Echoed bells
Ring throughout town.
People chattering about
And suits and skirts from church.

Shouts exclaimed
Passed door to door.
A barbecue party is at hand
And I dance to unfamiliar music.

Telephone calls
And catch my off guard.
I walk to pick it up
And I say good afternoon.


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