In a high plateau village
A woman , alone ,
Drunk on life
Lives in joy.

There is a cat
But nobody keeps anybody.
They just are.

Fulfilled in freedom
The woman sleeps , content ,
till mid – morning
After the collective burning of Holika
And the ritual gorging on deep fried fritters coated with gram-flour paste :
Aubergine , potato , courgette , onion ,gourd and green chilli :
And lazily opens her eyes to see
What woke her .

The tortoiseshell cat that slurped the pale peach cream
And drank the thick reddened milk out of the burnt sienna earthen pot
Left to cook in the embers of yesterday’s fire in the clay oven
Has rosy milk , peachy cream and grey-white ash on its quivering whiskers –
The overturned pot , broken
Its shards sticking out blackened red against the bleached cinders .
Cat’s glittering yellow eyes proclaim “not guilty“
Tail raised like a defiant banner
But it’s walk on padded feet is stealthy.

A smile spreads over the woman’s face
Spontaneous as a sunbeam
Light-hearted as the morning breeze
Lilting like the rhythm of the goatherd’s song

A giggle rises out of her chest, tickling her throat , uproariously , gloriously –
It’s a good morning , and the river beckons

Her sleep-drenched skin feels warm and satiny ,
her hair fragrant and silky –
She wants the touch of hibiscus
Leaves and flowers , here and now :
The whole forest awaits her ,
Every leaf aquiver with expectation.

She stretches,sways up and sashays out
The cat slinks close
Weaving in and out through her calves
Rubbing its arched back against the back of her knees
Confident of caresses .

Let us go out , you and I,
When morning is spread out against the sky
Like a red flag with ashen edges ….

( ASA )

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