Daylight would die. Darkness would reign.
We at our hut’s door. No single light inside.
Lights burning in houses around.
Kitchen- fires too. Bhakris beaten out.
Vegetables, gruels cooked.
In our nostrils, the smell of food. In our stomachs, darkness.
From our eyes, welling up, streams of tears.
Slicing darkness, a shadow heavily draws near.
On her head, a burden,. Her legs a- totter.
Thin, dark of body..my mother.
All day she combs the forest for firewood.
We wait her return.
When she brings no firewood to sell we go to bed hungry.
One day something happens. How we don’t know.
Mother comes home leg bandaged, bleeding.
A large black snake bit her, say two women.
He raised his hood. He struck her. He slithered away.
Mother fell to the ground.
We try charms. We try spells. The medicine man comes.
The day ends. So does her life.
We burst into grief. Our grief melts into air.
Mother is gone. We, her brood, thrown to the winds.
Even now my eyes search for mother. My sadness grows.
When I see a thin woman with firewood on her head,
I go and buy all her firewood.
Translated by Priya Adarkar