Ten days to mourn a father’s end in a lawless land. She stands graduated over soil pit before a sick industrial unit. Debtors, laborers like apparitions come for wages. Run, run away, they said, nothing was to come of this. She waits to splinter her body against the wave, sinking feet deeper in soil. The seeds that sprout, in sesame, sorgum, maize before spring impinge grit of her half-born sisters in memories of half-grown skeletons, hemorrhaging cartilage. Forget the turn of years in hours, remember the color of the sky, smell of pollen. In a spare-parts locomotion-production unit surgeries upon heart surgeries take place for one more day of labor, of grace. Finding winters in spendthrift summers, washing debts, breathing easy. Keeping planets in place with an invisible hand is art for well-oiled machinery. The winds whisper of storms, songs as she turns the clock back on tide -- inexorable deluge : footprints and fingermarks, guided alive by long-dead roses.
(Excerpted from the WE anthology ‘Equiverse Space – A Sound Home in Words’, 2018)
She had the most voluptuous body: tall, knew how to dress in body-hugging, cleavage-revealing, leg-showing, thigh-exposing clothes, most of the times in backless halter-necked dresses. She knew her brass and bling from her matte and shimmering. How to apply a bronzer, smoke up her eyes, gloss her lips, or tinsel her contours. She didn’t shy away from stilettos against her short husband, who stood with squared shoulders, and let her put an arm around him, always lovingly and protectively.
Beefy men who watched them cracked up at this. ‘Surely she’s riding him.’
‘What did she even find in him?’
‘Surely he’s trotting her – boy! Ain’t our horses bigger at any hill station?’
‘She should have looked around once. Given us a chance.’
‘She can still give. Still look around.’ They patted each other’s backs.
Sometimes they would walk by the two: hilariously odd couple, if spotted amid a crowd and whisper snidely or sing a suggestive song.
From the inner walls of their marriage, there was no one more gigantic for Varushka than Sid. His stature was visible only for the first five minutes. He was embracing, curious, and assured as a hill that had seen centuries of war, peace, and geological binge. He had entrusted her with freedom, not once stepping on her toes.
When they had differences, it would be brought about without cuss words – targeting the pivots alone. He had rationality. Something that also saved him from his angst. Not once did he demean her. He might have got angry, but he never belittled her.
When he spoke, he didn’t care if she was unclean, unshaven, feverish, gibberish, unkempt, or chic. He addressed her mind, remembering a phrase from his childhood of his mother saying something about girls.
He was small then, and she kept repeating it every time his cousin would come over. She had a lovely doll and he remembered how not only his cousin was so bright, but her doll could walk and talk.
What his mother kept repeating about girls beings dolls had turned out to mean dolls were for girls.
But it was too late.
He believed girls were dolls and had much more in them than their shiny pink frocks. He soon owned a doll who could walk and talk.
Now that was not something she could explain to the world or even want to.
Why would she give away the secret to her glowing face?