At the call of Comrade Lenin: a poem

By Sritama Bhattacharyya

My Socialist mother is quarantined, hence, a slave. 
Every morning, she hums in the kitchen 
Her favourite song ‘At the call of Comrade Lenin’. 
Her dress has a patch of water in the area near the abdomen. 
Her fingers: pruney, from the tapwater. 
I put on my mother’s skin, our rehearsed scene, 
To play the back-up slave. 
We are but heroes, really,
Saving the baby-men
From the sweat, the heat, the wet
With the spatula as our sword,
Their baby-smiles– our armour,
We sweat and cook their baby-food
For our own good.

The babies wake up late in the afternoon
When our clothes, our fingers are burning
With spice, in the eyes, 
they feel like splinter. 
He struts around in the house 
As though in lockstep with invisible men
Responding to the curious Call
Long strides, longer speeches. 
He sends WhatsApp forwards about Lenin,
We lean in at the slightest sight of leisure.

If Comrade Lenin had called on us in quarantine,
Who would take charge of baby-food and baby-wine?

Sritama is a High School teacher and a Research Scholar. She is also an editor at the Times of Corona.

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