Household Of Four Women

For Nabaneeta

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Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Award winning Indian poet, academic and novelist . Biswarup Ganguly [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

while the economist
father is away
writing on poverty lines
that would win him
a world prize

the poetess mother
is home
looking after her old mother
also a poet

raising her two daughters
in a household of four

wandering in the quiet gaps
of unreachable trails
making art
her friends

writing of women
like her
who first tend to life

who first make earth
that would nourish
women
of past and future

then write their poems.

~

Vaishali Paliwal

Nabaneeta Dev Sen is an Indian poet, academic and novelist born to two poets Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi. She has published more than 80 books and won many national and international literary awards. She has talked about her household of four when she was taking care of her mother and raising her two daughters as a single mother. You can find a picture of this household of four in the below story that was written by her daughter for her grandmother, a child bride before she became a young widow and then a great poet and revolutionist herself. Nabaneeta was married to Nobel prize winner famous Indian Economist Amartya Sen.

Below is also one of my favorite pieces by her.

“My exile is over, mother,
No more living in the jungle for me
Come, mother, underneath this matted beard
Feed the familiar cheeks of your child
Open up your breasts, mother, and watch how
The seven streams of milk
Gush towards my parched tongue

Look at these feet, mother, the tiny feet
Where your golden bells had jingled
Look at this arm
Upon which you had tied your talisman
When I was born
Now look at this chest where you had planted
The sapling of a heart
In a soft green stretch of sun
In the hidden mesh of this dark jungle,
Impenetrable,
Has grown a hungry tree

With toothy leaves and sharp claws
And fierce flowers
It chews on other hearts
A fine flesh-eater

My time in the jungle is over, mother,
Now the jungle lives in me.”

Nabaneeta Dev Sen

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