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I know you all.
I have been your mother, your son, your father, your daughter.
You see me now in my final role: kindly grandmother. It’s a fine part to go out on.
You might have heard how it all began, when my sister died and I took her newborn son to raise as my own.
People still ask, Did you know then what he would become?
What can I say? What mother doesn’t see a Buddha in her child?
He was such a quiet boy.
The first time he reached for me, the first time I held him while he slept, how could I not know?
To care for all the children, without exception, as though each will someday be the one to show us all the way home: that is the Path.
This anonymous verse is adapted by Matty Weingast from the Therigatha, a Buddhist text consisting of a collection of 73 short poems of women who were senior nuns. The poems date from a three hundred year period, starting in the late 6th century BCE. It is the companion text to the Theragatha, verses attributed to senior monks. It is the earliest known collection of women’s literature composed in India.