I hired a house-help recently. She’s quite fascinating. This is an ode to her.
She scratched her sparse grey scalp.
God’s hurried hand had sketched her hair—
Straight lines merged at the apology of a bun.
A small white rose pinned with two thin pins
Atop the knot, proclaimed pride in womanhood.
Her too-large blouse, many holed, held together
With safety pins. Her synthetic sari tucked up
In folds, dripped, for it was raining—not harshly,
But a continuous drizzle that had skimmed all fat
And defined her tall, strong-boned, work-horse of a body.
‘I am sixty-five… My children are in hostel…’ she says.
‘I studied till 11th standard,’ she says. Broken English testifies…
‘I will clean my daughter’s house,’ she says
And she does—slowly, lovingly… Perforce remembering my mother,
I distance her, but she has walked into my house, and… my head.
Only the Universe knows how she got my number—
I’d been searching when she called, ‘I need you, please wait for me…’
She is openly grateful. Such devotion I’ve never seen.
Her past leaps to my imagination, a good wife;
In my absence, she’ll surely watch over my sons like a mother…