At the holy river, by the ghats,
Mother sheds her usual shame.
She wears her black petticoat.
Her numerous sins. And little else.
The little one is asked to join.
For even at six, one has aleady -
stolen, lied, kissed and cheated.
Her father guards the clothes.
Dirt sticks to her tiny feet.
But she is told that this is holy.
The river, the dip, the day.
They are done with dissolving
their sins, and their prayers.
Father bends down and fills,
a brass pot as he explains -
“This water – is sacred. Pure”
The little one wants to tell him
that it may be a bit pointless.
For in the cold water,
No longer able to hold, knowing,
there was nowhere else to go.
She peed into the holy river.