At early hours
Silently thy walk at a quick pace
In a single file
Even in this metropolis as in the forest
Keeping an even
Distance at an arm’s length
From each other,
The spring in their feet, rhythm
Of their bodies,
Like storks in the morning sky.

Their focus is fully
To reach the flower bazaar quickly,
Balancing the head load
Of leaves collected from forest land.
Standing at roadside
They quickly sale, earn some cash,
And by noon time
Return to the forest – their homestead.

They’ve no interest
In this glamorous city of gold and trade.
Neither have they seen
The lures on the life-size hoardings
By half naked beauties
Nor they sight show-windows countless.

They make sure
To wrap a towel or pallu* around
Of nine-yard bikinis,
Cover the bare thighs and swinging hips.
It is a tightrope
Walk for survival – to live sanely
In the habitat
Infected by the barbarian Moderns.

On their way back
In file, they respect each other’s space.
All their attention now,
at noon time, their hungry babies at home.
Their full breasts ache
With milk for the child waiting for feed.
In the sex obsessed city
The motherhood is not on a fashion ramp.

Remigius de Souza
Mumbai, 21(12)/11/2003

* Pallu: a free end usually taken over head or around the shouldes of nine-yard sari.
* These forest dames are mostly from Thane District, the backyard of Mumbai city. They mostly belong to Warli tribe. As of today I notice a change in their attire; the younger generation has adopted to five yard saris in place of traditional nine yard ones.

© Remigius de Souza., All rights reserves.
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