The young woman, ill and knackered,
barely managed to sit up on her bed,
her hair disheveled, grimy from the heat
and sweaty from a negligent supply of power.
Her daughter, just two months old,
her mother yet to fully recover from the
trauma of losing her other twin sister.
Her husband had left for the day, at dawn,
for morning he worked, and afternoons he drank —
his hangover lasting late into the evening.
She spent her days washing the children,
doing the laundry, cleaning the house,
cooking for the family — did I not mention they had
seven other children already? A small backyard to
grow few vegetables enough to feed
crying mouths, she spent every noon weeding,
plucking ripe ones. Barely would she finish cooking,
she had to do the dishes, poultry to keep an eye on,
a cow to milk — feed it with fresh grass
that had to be cut from nearby slopes
and stack them back to her home.
Erelong time to wash and scrub the cow, using the dung as
manure for her kitchen garden and whatever remaining
to cake them on the outside walls of the house
to drive pests away and keep the inside cool.
Breastfeeding her two esurient toddlers came next.
A neighbor comes calling, time to leave
to travel to nearby tea slopes to pluck tender leaves of tea,
leaving the eldest seven-year-old to take care of the rest.
She would earn a rupee for every kilo plucked —
that would keep the stove in her house going
for a few more days. After all, she had to earn some money,
she could not afford to leave her sloshed husband to
undertake any responsibility. She had to get home now,
he would arrive any time, the children would be endangered
or simply get scared. She rushes back in her piteous condition,
only to find him at the gate of the house,
slouched, drunken, and roaring —
………………‘Where the hell have you been? The chickens are sprinting
………………Helter-skelter, wonder what you do all day, lazyfodder,
………………If you cannot school a bunch of chickens to order!’
Sudha Srivatsan was born and raised in India. A daughter, wife, and sister, she has worked in the Middle East and London. Sudha aspires to be known in the space of poetry as someone who weaves magic into language and combines unique design and strong color to her work of art. Her work has appeared in the Commonline Journal, due to appear in the Indiana Voice Journal, Leaves of Ink, and Subterranean Blue. She has been a winner of poetry contests and was recently shortlisted for the Mary Charman Smith November 2014 Poetry Competition.