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The Step-Mother - Poem by Bijay Kant Dubey

When the first had been alive, valued he never that poor girl,
The poor woman,
As kept she working all day long, all night long,
Eating late into the night,
Late during the daytime,
Giving the left-overs to that Lakshmi,
Unable to eat and drink,
Dress and clothe,
Torn sari and blouse had been the properties of hers,
As kept she living in a village,
A villagerly girl she was.

When she had been alive, never could they know her value,
Her behaviour and working temperament,
Her goodness and simple living,
She used to speak a little, used to take a little
And after making others eat, used to take food,
Had been very, very mild and good,
Speaking and behaving mildly,
But the household people could not
The virtue of her character
That she was from a good family.

When she passed away, said they,
She was a good and great soul,
As asked for nothing,
Whatever got she, felt pleased with and took to,
Without a grudge or hitch,
Bore the hazards of a joint family,
But why did she leave away on the midway,
For what fault of hers,
Good men do not live for more, said they.

The husband wept he by her side,
Saying it that he would not marry again
In memoriam,
For his beloved and bereaved wife,
Feeling secluded and dejected and forlorn
For many a day,
But with the lapse in time started he thinking
About marriage
And with the coming of the second wife,
More dear and lovelier,
The things have changed drastically.

But the new wife, one from a small family,
As who will to an aged groom.
Though he may think himself young,
A father of a son and a daughter
And had he many, the father of the girl
Would not have their daughter to him,
A double-married groom.

The father going to marry,
The whole family in joys and merry-making,
But the poor son and the daughter sorrowful,
Thinking about their beloved mother,
Tears into the eyes of theirs,
Welcoming the new mother with them,
Which the heart may not accept,
But what to do with?

The relatives asking the small boy and the girl
Not to accompany their father,
As they may feel it
Unwanted for the occasion,
A spoilt sport
To ruin it all
With the elegiac notes
And despondence enveloping.

As expected, came she the new mother
Playing the charmer’s wooden been
And the cobras dancing,
The cobra-girl, the poison-girl, the hypnotizer-girl
And the father after her,
As she would desert him,
And if deserted she, who would his daughter
To a middle-aged widower
And that too with the children?

The girl and the boy playing with dust and soil,
The hair of the small girl
Curly but lousy,
Without the hair oil,
Uncombed and undressed,
The small son too clumsy
And as thus spending half-fed, half-clothed
Apart from villagerly.

The step-mother giving left-overs to them
And that too not in the lot of the poor fellows,
The motherlessly simple children.
Mother and father taking stomachful food,
But the children staying half-fed,
Mother all the time complaining against
The son and the daughter,
Not her own,
From her stomach,
As she in the need of her own blood.

It is also true that Yasoda’s son is of Devaki, not of Yasoda,
Though she may claim over,
But the world knows it Devaki’s son,
Not of Yasoda,
But acknowledges too Yasoda’s indelible love
For child Krishna.

Dhruva’s story,
Bhishma’s vows,
All those remind us
How the insults and hurts meted out to
The step sons and daughters,
How the maltreatment,
How the pains of being motherless
And with the step-mother!

But the case different here,
The mother takes them not as her own,
The issues of other women,
The daughter, a growing child tries she
To commit suicide
By taking the flower seeds,
To end up her life

And had she died, she would have felt happy
Inwardly, as for the clearance of the prickly stuff,
The dowry for to be given during the marriage,
Outwardly sad to show it to the world,
Had it been,
But nothing happened like that,
As something saved her.

The father keeping himself somehow well,
Eating, drinking and oiling, in good humours and spirits,
But the son and the daughter playing outside in the sands,
During the hotter, summer-time noon, keeping soiled and dirty.
Two poor children, oh, the motherless children
Walking here and there,
The village house-wives talking about
Under the shady trees,
The study and mighty, age-old peepul and banyan trees
About the motherless children,
But not to give food to them stealthily.

The father too in the service of the new mother,
After her all the time,
Sitting near the earthen oven,
Looking her smiling face,
Hearing the chides of hers even,
Helping her to cook food
And she saying it
That she is ill and sick all the times.

The husband fanning her with the hand fan,
Massaging the legs
As she getting dizzy,
The joint family separated from,
His wife will not cook it herself,
The little girl needs to be called in
As for to cook food,
Which but he will see as a sheep.

And when she with a new born babe,
The little sister will move about
Keeping the new brother at her waist,
Doing all to please her mother,
Even by keeping the baby
And cooking food,
But she is not a thing to be pleased,
One in her angry mood, cursing-mood,
Ever ready to abuse her
Without rhyme or reason
Just like the tiger the lamb
As for making the stream water filthy.

The old wife dead and gone by,
Let bygone be begone,
The old portrait too hanging not on the wall
Of the mud house,
But the children thinking
That the mother will come out of the frame,
She will speak to them just now.

The step-son and the step-daughter when want they to be nearer
To their mother,
She shows not the requisite sympathy,
Which but they can understand,
Motherless souls and hearts,
When the mother close by,
One does not know the pathos of the mother,
Which but one feels it
After the death of the mother,
But the little children have nothing to do,
To understand.

Mother is mother,
Hence, they go on searching for
Their mother,
Which has but vanished into the shadows,
Never to return back,
From where
She has gone
Away to.

The children on seeing their new brother taking milk
Thinking of taking it
And the dream mother making them drink
The dream children
Just in a reverie,
Which but a bad dream
And it cannot materialize it in reality.

When will fortune turn to them,
When will their miseries come to an end,
When will their fortune open up,
The well-wishers thinking it,
But doing not anything,
Who can but say,
Barring the One
Who has given birth to all,
Why does man suffer,
Why does he struggle,
He can but say it,
But says He it not?

Their Writ of Destiny, that of the nightmarish children,
Who can but say it,
Not even the gods?

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