They build the shrines, not you.
They come to worship,
to tear off relics
of touches, photographs, patient smiles;
make gilt offerings of accolades and flattery;
seize your name and face
to bless their trinkets.

They wheel you out at festivals
like an unheard idol;
garland you with glibness,
parade their patience
as you pick your way across stages
to address the multitudes.

Do they honour you with schools and clinics built unasked?
Do they stand against tyrants,
fight for the most wretched,
speak without fear,
put people before plutocracy?

Persecuted, then patronised,
you stand amidst the clutching hands.
Unseen, you reach out to steady those
who would still walk
the long, unending walk to freedom.



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