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Aswini Kumar Mishra


She carries white-hot sand
in her scanty apron
and heaps on the cement floor
in a May noon,
braving the sand-storm
she plucks blood-red chinarose
as offering to the master
She tries to take the household
heavenward through worship
and in turn
seethes in a cauldron of molasses.

Who could she be ?

When the cheeky dames
return from a movie show
she tucks out the stamps
from used tickets
and sticks on her forehead
like pendants.
Bonny brats mouth toffee
and throw away cellophane wrappers
through which she views
colours of the outer world.

When none around
her feet sneak into and withdraw in haste
from silky slippers of her mistress,
as if to heal the blisters.

The unseen hand from high heavens
showers sacred ash on the chosen few,
pours dust and dirt over her in torrents.
Dirts converge, confer and conjoin
like the demon Jarasandha,
her little hands perennially struggling
to separate dirt from dirt.

Beyond the chained hound
lies her little world,
her treasure land :
a framed Sita, a tin-can
a hair-oil phial, a cracked mirror
and a toothless comb.

She fails to gather
her name scattered all over.
In her dedicated bondage
she distributes
her hands and feet, liver and skull
all her limbs.

Lust engulfs the tender bud
like a swarm of fire-spewing bees,
she wriggles to escape,
they do not let her go.
Dismembered petals fall apart,
at that death-throe
hunger billows
they gather, arouse and seize once again.

Translated by Abhaya Kumar Padhi


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