From morn till night, she sits there on the steps as you pass her by. A frail and fragile body draped in an excuse of a sari, large eyes look from behind dark-rimmed prescription glasses that covers almost the entirety of her face. In your haste, you don’t give her a second glance, but she calls out to you, “Maa…” and an unsteady hand begs you.
“Maa” the word literally means mother but any self-respecting Bengali would know that it holds a world of meaning. “Maa” is the deity, the daughter, the naughty child and the caregiver. It is an endearment, a plea, a hope and a sigh…
Rush hour, no you don’t have the time to spare, ironed white shirts, black polished shoes and enough cologne to douse the stench of poverty around you, you hitch your bag higher on your shoulders, pull down those ray ban aviators and speed up your descent down the stairs to the underground.
Ah! But you do stop; yes, I see you slow down and fumble in your purse for a coin, spare change? No! A crisp ten rupee note, generous after all… The frown clears from the wrinkled face and a glimmer of light touches those big eyes.
But wait! I see you turning your back on her, yes and you bend down and give her a view of your derrière in that soft denim you got at a steal of a mere two thousand as you bow down as low as you can and touch the feet of the saffron and white who sits proudly. Incense sticks, a tiny picture of Shiva? Vishnu? Laxmi? Oh, you can’t tell? God then?
“Maa?” She calls out again. You cluck like poultry, your feathers ruffled and mutter under your breath about the absolute incompetence of the government, and then…
Then you hasten down to the underworld.