The Plucker and the Drinker

This poem is dedicated to innumerable tea plucking women of the Himalayas.  It is not easy standing under the blazing sun for hours and rummaging for the find amidst unkindly bushes. It is worse still when the profession is labeled a caste, classifying the lineage forever for generations to come. As I drink my favourite cup of Darjeeling today, my thoughts go to the female tea pluckers in the hills of India and Nepal. Bent silently over dark green bushes, under a blistering sun, rummaging the tea bushes for that match of  two newly sprung leaves with the precious bud in between  – Dui paatey suiro called in Nepalese. They toil of course for a living but we shall not forget, that because they stand and pluck in the wind and rain; because they stand under the unforgiving sun that rob their youth much ahead time, we are able to indulge in our lazy morning tea, and soothing afternoon tea. Low wages, excruciating conditions and parsimonious owners have driven them to build unions, the very shelter for which they have fallen under harsh scrutiny. Derogatorily called  Sunday by townsfolk, they swarm the town for recreation usually on Sundays dressed in their best. When Monday comes, they rise at dawn and are back amongst the stunted bushes, wicker baskets dangling on their backs, plucking for the next Sunday trip to town.

up a scant chimney
swirled grey smoke
a bent little body
from a corner woke

a thin slice
of flat bread
on an open fire
a head full of distress
and a heart full of desire

It is time to go
to go and pluck
no time for woe
while tearing a baby’s suck

nimble fingers 
against green spear tips
opens cuts and blood drips
it’s not the mist
if you must know
that turns the leaves
into a precious pekoe

Yet drink we must
for them to pluck
for the milk in her breast
for money in her pocket
there is although
a lot more we can do
but we’d rather not
you know what I’m talking about

Your spirits  might I augment
when this I must express
to be, we are what we are meant
to be, we are, what are we meant?
you question unwilling to relent
To you then, I hurl, a blow with my intent

Blood drinking
and indifferent,
affected and indulgent
That is who we are.
Good night to you now
and Godspeed

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Yoshay Lama

I welcome you warmly to my blog. This is the resting place of most of my creative work. This blog consists of book reviews, articles, poems, mere reflections and excerpts from my stories.

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