When little Rita died, her anemic Ma cried,
This eight-year-old was the quietest
Of the big quarreling brood.
Always caring for me and others,
Bringing leftovers from the families
Where the child ceaselessly worked long hours,
Her slender back broken by the labour of two adults,
Now she is no more, my precious child!
What will I do now?
Who else will do her chores?
She brought a few hundred rupees in our unlit hovel
We are poorer by those few hundreds.
Another rugged woman muttered,
Grieve not, sister Sita,
Your second daughter is finally free
From regular beatings by her drunk father,
And hunger and possible multiple rapes
By the rich slumlords and others in eternal wait.
The poor child is free at last!
And gone to heaven, we all hope so,
The poor are the favourite of God,
So the holy books say.
But we, the graying women
Are still hapless prey
To the male lust and power
That makes us cower,
In impoverished homes.
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