For the poverty-stricken women in India who work as domestic maids.
Another summer afternoon
under furnace sky
roads, mud, golden grass, dead air
dull in pinching heat that pierces skin,
saps water and more,
nature’s laws of balance
most get by, sitting on cold marble floors,
air conditioned living rooms
although for her yet another afternoon.
she walks out of a house, tall black gates
her dark skin covering bones, veins ornaments, keenly seeks
furnace yellow’s unconditional love
long day, second round, fourth house
dishes were clean and floors mopped
letting them walk bare foot,
cook food for clean dinner plates.
she is woman with destiny, inhabitant of asbestos
and steel structures where children run on streets,
cars scooters bicycles are skyscraper dreams.
A maid, veins etched under skin testify her fate,
as do her ‘small breasts’ as group of boys whisper each other under Neem,
keenly experimenting their growing instincts.
she walks back home
in hundred-rupee pink suit orange scarf
bought from Friday bazaar, roadside sellers away from malls
fantasy for her, filth for others;
meets friends on broken pavement, gossips and giggles,
destiny for a moment disappears.
perhaps there is no such thing as destiny for her
she is free to laugh to meet to share to speak
unlike women she works for;
women with gold bangles and inherited necklaces
locked in generations of promise of family pride and dignity
house arrested by honour.