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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 29, New Delhi, July 4, 2020

Helmswoman | AK Das

Saturday 4 July 2020

The sea is deep and rough;
dark clouds hover overhead;
it is wee hour in the dawn:
time to set sail for fishing.
 
She comes to the beach,
readies the small, old boat,
mends the fishing net,
then starts the daily voyage
along with her husband.
 
They steady the course
with full steam ahead,
spreading the net,
but often the wait is
for hours of patience.
 
When the mission is complete,
the couple brings the haul
to the auction centre;
a round of bargaining –
then the catch is sold.
 
After trudging back home,
she looks after the daily chore.
When the sun sets,
they retire for the night,
clutching at hard-earned rest.
 
At daybreak the same routine!
She reaches the beach, but
finds the sea calm, placid,
small waves breaking on the shore,
gentle breeze blowing across.
 
She feels a momentary release
from the net of fish-catch
into a vast expanse liberating her.

— A.K. Das

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