'DurgaKali on Her Mother'

by Don Paul and Hamid Drake

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about

Marigny Recording Studio
February 20, 2026

lyrics

DurgaKali on Her Mother'

Let me also tell you
About my mother and her days.

When you work in ditches
And wash at public taps
Cars splash you when they pass.
When the dirt of our streets in India
Etches so deep it colors your knuckles,
It becomes like your skin,
It is like a sari whose itching coat
Is always yours to wear and wash.
When you work so long on your knees,
You can only remember your back straight,
Limber and lithe enough for easy dancing.
When your meals are rice and lentils,
The rupees that your labor earns
Feed your children only rice and lentils.
When you must say "Sir" and "Madame"
To foolish rich people of upper caste,
Say these words of “Sir” and “Madame”
Or face a future of no work,
Well, then, the bus still costs too much
And your bent and shrunken curves
Still draw leers and groping
From fools raised on Bollywood.
Oh yes, my mother’s body said to me:
When fatigue is etched this deep into your bones,
You feel you carry a bowl of lead on your head.
You can't summon even a moment of fancy.
You're like a beast. She let me feel
We’re like one beast,
Her, me, and all the mothers and daughters
Trudging and scuttling each morning
Under the red boil of dawn.
Yet even on these mornings
My mother's mouth jutted out,
Her eyes’ focus was sharp and clear,
She looked straight ahead.
She was hopeful and defiant.

Don Paul, first January 27, 2013

credits

released May 19, 2016
Don Paul lyrics and vocal
Hamid Drake frame drum and song

tags

license

all rights reserved