Beautiful: dancer, artist, cook, jeweled nose ring flashing,
bindi accentuating the rose ochre skin, Nirmala
described mature women of her Southern state
as remaining graceful into old age because, she said,
they bent in choreographed motion serving men.

I thought it too high a price to pay.
However, bandaged, mummified, drugged,
dumped and left on a cold commode, hallucinating
in a dark, airless hospital loo,
around me, forgotten for years,

those old women dressed in saris and bangles
present in multitudes only by transubstantiation
bend as I cannot, whispering, comforting,
their arms laden with fine linens,
their hands offering bowls of scented oil.