Little Princess, or, the One-Eyed Girl

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Her mother calls her Little Princess,

Affectionately, as the name suggests.

The truth, however,

Is a pock-pitted, flat-nosed, bald,

And one-eyed face.

 

        Little Princess has come of age.

        She cuts and threshes, pounds and grinds,

        Trims the wickers till her hands are raw,

        Sweeps the floor, throws the rubbish out,

        Fills the pots with water.

 

Still, her mother’s heart is troubled.

It feels like a box a thief has emptied.

Where will she get

A husband for her daughter?

She despairs if someone

Says in the neighbourhood,

 

        ‘All said and done,

        Little Princess is a woman.

        Who wants a one-eyed wife?’

        When Little Princess hears this

 

Her body shivers.

She sees her mother’s grief

And a tear fills her good eye.

But the blind left one

Stays dry, alert.

 

 

[1942] Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.

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