Radha , the woman labourer

By: Mousumi Biswas


Carrying a pile of bricks on her head

Puffing away the bidi between her dark dry lips

With a baby tucked away on her slim swaying hips

Radha climbs up with agile steps

The make shift ladder of the house under construction

Her tiny waist sways from left to right

Her blouse is drenched with sweat

Her orange cotton saree crumpled and old

She uses it to protect her baby from heat and cold

At lunch time she opens a tattered bundle of cloth

To reveal the little food for thought

Her husband joins her with two cups of tea

She smiles back at him with glee

She puts her baby to her bosom

With her own meagre lunch she carries on

The baby has had her fill

Soon she goes off to a satisfied sleep

Its time for Radha to get back to work

She ties a red saree from one tree to another

And puts her baby into the makeshift hammock

The baby gives back a toothless smile

And goes back into her own dream world

The day has ended

Its time for Radha to stand in the queue

And get her befitting due

She works the same hours as the men at at the site

But what she gets is a pittance in return

This is not right

A squabble follows

No one listens to her

She has to be satisfied with whatever she gets in hand

Or forgo even the work she gets to do

Mousumi Biswas