Burdened with a bucketful of nightsoil on one hand
And a tattered broom and a rust-encrusted rake on the other
She cooed in a delightful dialect :
'emi nayna, baga vunnava ?'
Her broad smile : broken-toothed,
Betel-stained and tobacco-smelt.
Her inquiry:concern-laden and pretension-free.
A scare-crow of an old woman, looking older than her age.
Dressed in tattered clothes and ornamented
With a crumpled silver talisman
On a blacksilk string around her bonyneck
And broken bits of broomstick for ear studs and nose ring.
She made her daily rounds come rain come shine
Always cheerful and always smelling of betalnut and chewing tobacco
Drowning the odour of human excreta
The daily collection of which earned her staple food.