Har Chandi, moon faced, God’s Moon, pleasing to the sight, skin lightly pocked with marks like distant craters. Not intrusive, seemingly not scars.
Her head covered with a light scarf, she trundles her squeaking wobbly barrow, sweeping up leaves and droppings of pooches on leads.
Then she is gone from the dusty streets.
A year later, her face no longer mirrors the poetry of her name. Her steps lag. The expression hits me forcefully: the years have taken their toll.
My cheery “Namaste, Har Chandi,” sounds all wrong.
“I broke my arm.” She cradles an elbow. “Life is so hard. I spent all my savings on my husband- he got cancer and died.”
She is bereft- of money, of the shine that lit her face- but still has her job with the Municipal Corporation.
“I have to go on for my son’s sake. You must have seen him in the park.” She searches my eyes. “He’s a little simple, but I have got him a job. It’s not permanent, but could become pukka later.”
The gangling boy with the narrow, wobbly head who calls out, “Good morning Sir.”
Har Chandi too calls everyone Sir, irrespective of gender. She has taught him survival tactics, but how much did the Foreman pocket to give him some work?
Her son looks a decent boy. He’ll look after her when she is old.
“If you have a pair of shoes, keep them aside. He’s size 6.”
And all these years she’s never asked me for anything.