A poem by Nissim Ezekiel:


We pride ourselves
on generosity

to servants. The woman
who washes up, suspected

of prostitution,
is not dismissed.

She always gets
a cup of tea

preserved for her
from the previous evening,

and a chapati, stale
but in good condition.

Once a year, an old
sari, and a blouse

for which we could
easily exchange a plate

or a cup and saucer.
Besides, she borrows

small coins for paan
or a sweet for her child.

She brings a smell with her
and leaves it behind her,

but we are used to it.
These people never learn.

From Nissim Ezekiel: Collected Poems, 1952-1988

No comments: