A woman engaged in household chores never knows the passage of time.
One day she realises...
She’s past fifty;
yet she’s still
a little girl at heart,
for whom the house is a doll’s house,
and running the household
a childhood game.
She has travelled a long road; but her little feet
are not yet fatigued.
Catastrophes to her
are still like the evil spirits
in children’s stories
whom she fights with blades
of grass; wipes the sweat
from her brow; hits hard;
sometimes wins, sometimes loses,
her sword broken.
she has simplified for herself;
fitted the tangle
into a simple frame;
on her face
she has made distaste smile,
like moonlight that makes everything smooth.
But sometimes totally in despair,
a flower crumpled in a fist, she
rises again, smiles, or sings to herself,
though hers is not a musical voice.
I saw her the other day
after a long time;
with her usual, irrepressible intensity;
but I, for the first time,
noted the hair fast becoming white,
noted, for the first time, and with a pang,
the hollowness of the froth
rising above the stream of her life.
Shanta Shelke (1922-2002) born in Pune - Maharashtra is a poet, journalist, teacher, translator and composer. Her poems deal with the problems that Indian woman faces.