The Vegetable Vendor – Chandra Mohan Bhandari, Adajan, Surat
a dozen baskets – few big, some small,
stacked with vegetables—some full, others in part
placed artistically as if they were trophies won.
Baskets arranged in configurations
to optimally use available space;
in the middle of it all on an wooden plank
she sat majestically, ready to take
a long day’s job at hand,
commanding her one man army
comprising her son, barely ten.
She wielded an authority,
neither commensurate with her earnings,
nor with her over all status in the scheme of things.
She kept her customers disciplined and satisfied,
her elegant management even during rush hours
queue jumping strictly forbidden,
it was her usual rule of law,
where exceptions were hard to find.
She was timeless, time was less for her
to peep into her personal life
as for her son who needed her care most
she had hardly any time around.
Passing along the road in late hours
I found her fast asleep embracing empty baskets,
by her side lay her son,
having bypassed most of his childhood
almost a man in boy’s face,
his head resting on mother’s arm
Next to the boy a dog was half asleep
keeping vigil on her empty empire.