Friday Poem

Kootai, the Beautiful Rag-picker

There are some women in life who inspire you.
They need not always be the successful women,
Those who belong to high society or status, or
Those who have risen to the top rank in their career.

Success can never be measured by achievements alone,
Success is like an intoxication,
The more you have – the more you want,
It is like an opium that you cannot get rid of.

Some years back, I began to take notice of a woman,
Who walked around the premises of my residence,
Picking up rags, papers, sticks from the ground, and
Putting them into a large sack that she carried.

At first, I suspected her as a petty thief.
Then I realized, that she was just a scavenger,
I began to watch her from my window every morning.
There was something about her that was unique and charming.

One day, I just beckoned to her from my window
And asked her name and as to what she was doing.
She said her name was Kootai- named after a Goddess.
And then, addressing me as ‘Amma’ she flashed a beautiful smile.

From then onwards, a strange friendship blossomed.
Every day, she would shout out calling me ‘Amma”
Until I appeared before the window,
And exchanged some pleasant dialogue with her.

What I loved about Kootai was her beautiful smile,
She resembled an actress from a south Indian film,
She radiated so much of happiness and innocence,
That each day I looked forward to her visit.

As days passed by, Kootai’s voice calling me out loudly,
As ‘Amma’ became a regular feature, a routine affair!
Every one recognized her as my admiring friend,
People stopped shooing her off as a rag picker!

Once, she went to her village in South India,
And returned to Mumbai only few months later,
I was surprised and taken aback when she suddenly
Appeared before me with several gifts and eatables,
Which included rice, coconuts, vegetables and fruits.

When the floods happened in Mumbai in 2005,
Kootai disappeared and never returned.
I kept wondering what could have happened to Kootai.
But she never returned and i never saw her again,

Even today, though many years have passed by,
The vision of Kootai’s beautiful face appears before me.
There are some relationships in life which cannot be named,
But their fond memory is deeply imprinted, never to be erased.

Geeta Radhakrishna Menon
from Poem