Washer woman – Sudhanshu Bhandari, Uttarakhand

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It’s the twilight zone between night and day;
The Sun is still not yet up there;
The crepuscular horizon has a razor-thin streak
Of red-light peeping out from sleep.

I am in my cosy bed, immersed in thoughts
that surround me like a cacoon’s threads;
When I hear the sounds: thud, thud, thud, thud.

It’s the neighbouring household’s washer-woman;
In fact, not a woman but a frail young girl;
Who comes every morning in this unearthly hour
to strike the dirt out of someone’s shirts.

Her repeated motions hammer in my head;
They prevent my dozing off in the coziness of my bed;
What quirky fate has brought her here when
Children her age with a barbie-doll near are coaxed to but put their feet out from their bird’s nest.

This child too must be feeling the cold;
For she has the same skin, muscles and bones;
And it seems to me that more than the money;
The luxury she lacks is the absence of a caring parent
Who feed more on her childhood than her money(which they take too).

Her childhood sandwiched between need and greed;
A mature head placed on tiny shoulders with a malicious fate;
Hammering out her innocence like she hammers the clothes.

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