Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Nameless Face

She looked out of the casement; 
Living in Banaras, there was always something intriguing happening on the pavement. 
Sometimes she saw holy men, a couple of devotees too, 
All praying to God, secretly hoping that She would shower upon them gifts anew. 
'Gifts', she contemplated, 'Are they really worth all this trouble?'
For she had been taught, no rather it was inscribed in her mind,
That the gift of womanhood was more than ample. 

Her father, her mother and her brother,
Had never seen it logical to tie her to a tether, 
Just because she was a blooming girl-flower. 
Their neighbours and relatives warned them, "A girl's place is in the house;
Never let her wander hither and thither,
Unless you want her returning as a woe-begone feather."
But her family never heeded all the empty excuses the others made,
For they believed that their daughter had a solid path for her life laid. 

They sent her to school,
To be educated and erudite
In English, math and the history of the Plebiscite. 
Let me tell you that this did not decrease her devotion to God in the least,
She was just as devout as the temple's head priest. 
She had dreams, as all of us do,
So she landed in the metro, hoping to make them come true. 
She made new friends, exercising great caution,
For she had been advised, 'the city could stymie even great gumption.'
She watched every move, observed every syllable,
Lest she should end up in most great trouble. 

One evening, a stormy Sunday evening,
'Is being a woman really a gift?', she sat brooding. 
She could recount the countless times she had been pushed and pinched, 
Without the slightest repentance from the miscreant when she flinched. 
She thought of her hometown.
Such incidents never happened to her there!
But then again, maybe it was 'Mummy and Daddy were always there to take care of
Their teddy bear.'

She woke up the next day, with a gloomy countenance, 
Not knowing that in a few hours she would be a victim of amaurotic vengeance. 
The day came to a close in a commonplace manner, 
She was content that another day had gone by,
Another day when she did not falter. 
Her friend dropped her around the driveway,
The  dingy, deserted street ahead did not her fears allay. 
She thought she heard the Gull's bugle in her head,
But she could not complete the thought; the next moment was she to the tigers fed. 
She retaliated, with incessant cries of desolation,
But nothing could soften their heart as they continued with the blatant act of violation. 

She was taken to the emergency room, 
Her character swept away like mere dust by the police and bureaucrats with a broom. 
They didn't cease to comment, 
"A girl her age should have been more careful", they nonchalantly said. 
Derogatory, inflammatory, comforting, condescending - 
They chattered until they were satisfied that they had got their thirty seconds of fame;
Some even went on to say she had tarnished her family's illustrious name. 
A faction even protested against the government's inaction,
The intelligentsia left watching in pure putrefaction. 
Stringent laws for called for, and it all happened in a big flurry,
Until the incident went out of the public's memory. 

A couple of months later no one knew about what happened to the girl hailed as the country's braveheart,
For they had fallen back into their routine mechanical,
Worrying about their finances and how to settle their matters judicial. 
But, for the rest of us, this was an appalling contravention 
Of the right to live, the right to traverse along any road without being subjected to molestation. 

I took a vow: 'If ever a son should I beget,
I would inculcate in him the respect he should give his sisters
Before he learns the alphabet.'

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