Invoking the MATRI SHAKTI
Have you seen the tattered girl flopping down on the festering ruins
looking frantically for lost crumbs of food?
That, my dear, is my Durga, her trishul, her trident blown to ashes, mingling in her soiled, chipped off fingernails.
Having you seen the blazing fire
in the eyes of that lowly woman
who bares her sagging breasts, her blackened nipples latched on to, vigorously, by children of her wealthy ‘babus’, their wives and mistresses kicking her away when the wet nurse pushes her boundaries, craving to be one of their own kin?
That, my dear, is my Durga,
Her own man, the crumbling, invalid man, shoves her to the edge of surrender, her own stillborn babies
fortified her with motherly hormones,
but never clutched her arms.
Have you seen the stinking woman who sells cheap liquor
in a nondescript store on the fringes of the city?
When the street dogs bark
in the coital madness of the end of summer,
her barren shrieks inside the makeshift store
mingle with the ghastly human barks,
and they rejoice at their coercion, calling her names, spitting on her.
That, my dear, is my Durga, wiping her frozen tears,
bracing herself for a fresh new evening, fresh new onslaughts,
sometimes, if fate permits, cheap glass bangles which tinkle
when a voice, known from another lifetime,
resounds at the door: ‘Do you have some soda?
Can we meet tomorrow at the broken mosque for one minute in the noon?’
She, the Uma knew no homecoming, her home was the pyre
that burnt when the bastard girl was born.
Her home, the mossy, dilapidated liquor store where she sits and waits, befriending Parvati, the dark, sturdy woman selling tea at the other side of the street, the ‘Parvati’ who had roamed with her, carefree, hand-in-hand, reveling in the grand puja pandals, frolicking with her ‘babus’
who, she revealed, treats her with
egg roll and ice-cream, once she ‘serves’ them well.
Have you seen the woman with lice and brown tangles in her hair
holding in her emaciated arms a shabby weakling, stopping at traffic signals
for coins and the sweet nothings of human pity?
The cheap, perfumed womanly deluge flocking on the streets for their men of the night?
The gray rubble of their lives trampled over by the clang of their shiny sandals?
Have you seen the mud and soil at the doorsteps of these women kiss the ground beneath the altar of our diva?
Your own Durga, my own Durga, the Durga amid us all live, rise, wax and wane in their lingering wants.
Lopamudra Banerjee is an award-winning author, poet and editor from Dallas, Texas. She is the author of ‘Thwarted Escape’ (Authorspress, 2016) and her debut poetry collection ‘Let The Night Sing’ has recently been published by Global Fraternity of Poets.
cover photo: Google