gather their kin
walk to the paddy fields
carrying a big pot of rice
prepared the night before
along with raw onion, and green
chillies finely chopped,
Kaliamma holds her baby
close to the bosom, pulls
the saree over the child’s head
trots briskly with a pot
of water, Kalimuthu sucks
with a K- Ah sound, suck, swallow,
breathe, resembling a grunt/gulp.
Kali and his men invoke the God Ayyanar
for a bountiful harvest, They
cut the stalks with their sharp sizzles,
dazzling bright in the morning sun light.
A swish swish sound fills the air.
Kali sings the harvest song
while the other men follow
“ello ello — ayelesha ‘
a song that lifts their spirit
and eases their pain, Corona
Dengue and other fevers do not deter.
Kaliamma enters with her gang.
collects the stalk, places them
on the heads of the women who have
placed rolled pieces of cloth on their heads,
called as summadu
The women trot, balance the load,
run towards athe place
marked for beating the stalks
to remove the husk, called
The man and wife slog
while their sonsleeps
in the make shift thuli
an old saree goes round the sturdy
branch of a neem tree, by knotting
the two ends the cradle is formed.
Sucking his thumb Kalimuthu
sleeps content, The cradle
oscillates gently in the breeze.