Ma counts her savings
each new month and says,
Kikore cholbo ebar?”

She only
means how will we all survive, how
shall we step from tonight into a
tomorrow like this – saving, endlessly saving,
and buying dal in small amounts
along with a cup of rice
to boil.

It is a fact;
how we can’t afford peanut butter
anymore, how we unpack
biscuit packets with care and hope
that it sustains us a month.

Our ration dealer has been acting kind
with the staple rice, some raw atta seeds –
waiting in a slow line the start of every month,
with cards marked yellow, blue and red –
stand in line and you’ll get your share,
show your card, here’s the income, oh –
that must decide if you’ll get a kg less, the numbers tell.

But how do we tell, now that Baba lost his job
and still chooses to say yes, okay?
Nothing we do is ever enough
nor will it ever be.
So when Ma says, “Kikore cholbo ebar?”
You know exactly what she means.

Santanu Das is a postgraduate student studying English at Jadavpur University.