Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The Woman in Red

Red chiffon
Vermilion on forehead
Coral round the neck
Adorned are the Ammas of Andhra
Bhavani becomes them!


4 a.m. Durga Temple
Janaki keeps her date
With Maa Devi Durga Bhavani
Darshan done, sindoor and mala donned
‘Bhavani’ now returns home
To the call of family deity
for Puja and Prasadam
Uncombed hair, empty stomach,
She walks for an hour
from Yarada village to Dolphin Hill
Bare feet - in penance
To meet call of duty…
8 to 5 ‘domestic’ routine
Washing, cleaning, cooking, ironing
On 2 ½ cups of milky tea
In descending darkness and black-out
Also an outcome of striking ‘power’
Fear of snakes banished 
She hurries home for evening prayers
To her two daughters
And an alcoholic husband
Fresh naivedyam to prepare… yet again
Until Vijayadashmi
In the innocent hope of appeasing the Demon!

‘Modern’ Amma

A minister once
In his wisdom… or lack of it
Called women ‘names’
Parkati aurat, he said –
For those with short-crop,
And, by corollary, thence
for their ‘modern’ outlook
He, perhaps, never ventured
Down under… South
Or he would have seen
The Ammas of Andhra
Head tonsured off its tresses
Sporting skull-crop of grey
Or, a bob and a blunt
Nose-studs and saree in place
The mane left behind
At Tirupati…
At the feet of Lord Venkateshwara
Fashion sense or religious stance
It is, finally, all in the glance

Note: I have used the description Amma in many places… it may seem a derogatory connotation to some (ironically so, given our penchant for poking fun at “Madrasis”), but I use the word, in its true sense, as a genuine term of endearment and respect.  

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