Nagamma(In Memory of a Practioner of a past Profession)

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.