Just as the day sank down and the dark’s kingdom came
We would sit at the door with no light in the hut.
In house after house the lamp would be lit,
he fire would be started, bhakri kneaded.
From somewhere the smell of lentils, of vegetables,
Would hit our noses. In our stomachs all was darkness.
And a stream of tears would flow from my eyes.
The darkness was spilt, a dull shadow came toward us.
As she walked, the burden on her head shook, shifted.
Dark, dark slender body- this was my mother.
Drudged in the woods for sticks from morning on.
All we brothers , sitting, waiting, watching for her.
And if she didn’t sell the wood, all of us slept hungry.
One day something happened, how, we never understood.
Mother came, foot wrapped, blood flowing down.
A huge black snake had bitten her, two women said.
It showed its hood, struck, then slowly crawled away.
Mother was laid on the mat, the charmed cord tied,
The mantras said, the village vaidya called.
Day went, and as it went, life went from her body.
Our wailing broke out, became thin in the air,
Mother had gone, leaving her children in the wind.
My eyes seek my mother, I still grieve.
I see a thin vendor of wood, I buy her sticks.
Translated by Vidyut Bhagwat and Eleanor Zelliot