Varnamala : Contemporary Oriya Poetry

 
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ASWINI KUMAR MISHRA
 

HOUSEMAID


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 hairoil 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.  
  

Translation :
Abhaya Kumar Padhi    

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