PARTHA SARATHI PAUL
From sobs to sighs..............
Laila, minor lass
the land Bangladesh
moons ago mummy gone
collapsed Abba now
mobbed by motley mourners
aloft to the last home
amidst wail and moan.
One distant chacha
takes the orphan his home;
high dose of sly sedative
in full-plate of fine rice
brings a stupid good slumber
a forced mid-term peace!
The grasping kinsman
sold his soul to the devil;
the time she wakes
with still drowsy eyes
finds herself in a lonely room
in a house like home.
A missing girl lost
in an outcast malodorous world!
A clump of tin-roofed shanties
on the edge of Hilsa famous Padma
in the custody of Queen, the mistress.
Let more three years wean
and Laila becomes a teen;
she owes one fated debt
to her mistress, the madam Queen.
The ‘due’ accrues with every fallen day
on two-square meals and cheap frocks gay.
Grown in lady pimp`s affectionate care
like a mascot or one bestowed heifer.
Just three years later
at one very sultry-sullen noon
sparrows were chirping by the gutter
dropped in there a dainty Babu
and Laila was chosen soon
by her first ‘one hour long’ beau.
Lusty gale and lewd gust
rummaged through newly blossomed
blooms ridden verdure patch,
goes disheveled every settled dust;
unheeded all groan and moan
flock and flutter in the niche-zone.
Lashed a blackish mark once a whip
as rebellious mouth made a beef;
the platter went blank for a day and night
she stepped over her narrow fenced right.
The lesson thus learnt
one fears the fire once burnt!
As many times in a working day
so much dough comes her way;
poor a slave remains under the mistress
till she pays off to end her distress.
Some hours are slow, some too fast
come of her age but mind gathers rust.
Vultures nibble the flesh to bits
the carrion-depot fills up with stigma gifts.
No more a newcomer, nothing anew
the drab drags the lacklustre hue.
This place is now her place too
the waters in Padma may often moo.
The ancient marks go fairly blurred
yet languished anguish is itself flushed.
In the wake of a brisk night
in the wee hours` rosy flight
travells a long way to a stationery stall
run all by herself, free from a thrall!
Come rupees, come coins with sweat beads
a shaft flickers and tunes the coaxed reeds.
Moist eyes go shut in a voluntary reverie
out from the stone statue the spell-captive fairy!
Small coins clang into a bright piggybank
last straw clutched from the trodden rank.
Roaring night ends up at a calm dawn
doted ‘will’ romps like a sportive fawn.
Sea of tears streams into Padma bosom
cactuses come up and no buds ever blossom.
The sudden demise of her adorable support
upset her multiplication table in ill-lot’s rapport.
Too little for the pluck as Laila was a lass
foliage, twigs were crushed; a topsy-turvy vase.
Now she stands as stuffed sack pain
so soiled a linen that wash is vain!
Still she plucks up all leftovers strength
stands up firm for a free-fresh breath.
They hail from the land
salt-water embraced land
mute, looks on a little away Dhaka
a feeble witness, huge flowing Padma.
The huddle in a cluster of shanties
multiply like insects in obscure localities.
Loaded wheels screech there to a stop
the pathway is spotted with betel blob.
They turn either staple or fancy food
for the hidden belly or stomach good.
In all terms merely manual-labourers
survive and subsist on odd wayfarers.
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