“Willingly no one chooses the yoke of slavery”
— Aeschylus

Reminding us of this grim truth is this excellent and poignant collection of poems from The Significant League with its outstanding crop of poets and excellent editors at the helm- Dr Ampat Koshy, Urooj Murtaza and Ipsita Ganguly. Thank you dear Editors and the Different Truths Team of Arindam Roy and Anumita Chatterjee Roy for giving us an opportunity to write and read such beautiful poems and that too as a service to mankind. Poetry at its best. Happy May Day!

The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on Bonded Labour, 60 poems, one be each poet, full of pathos and pain.

Source: Anthology on Bonded Labour | Different Truths

The first poem in this collection is mine titled ‘Paro’s Girl’

Paro’s Girl
She was the sound of a pot being scrubbed
And drummed upon, a visual rooster call
Framed through a red iron grill, in the grey dawn
Was her bowed squat, the permanent sniff,
Wispy thin arms and unkempt plait
Yet she was invisible
A rag bundle among the crows
The sleeves of her frock stopped where my gaze too did
Not wanting to add five burnt fingers scarred into a claw
To the discomfiture of being clothed in privilege.

She was Paro’s girl.
Paro, dirt exterminator by day
And physiotherapist by night.
From a hidden perch, I watched in awe
As soot black feet stamped on the prone
Rickshaw puller’s flesh and bones.
Houses trembled when her tongue lashed.
Yet her absence was a natural disaster
An infant hung from her black breasts,
But the girl was a contract forgotten
A loan obtained when she had none of her own.

‘Maa’ an attempt to bond with another bonded one
Whose voice and swagger were defense mechanisms,
But who couldn’t bring herself to call the labour-sharer
A daughter, but then these were all written indelibly in stone.
I believed with all the wisdom of being eight,
An unknown bond they had somehow signed
One I couldn’t read.
Paro’s girl scrubbed on with her mesh of heirloom scars
No one remembered that she had never been named.

©Reena Prasad

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