Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bright Orange Saree

By Heera Lilian Selvakumar

Bright orange saree
On the rim of a stone well
Its cheap shiny sequins
Had many a secret to tell
Of uncle’s violent temper
And aunty’s failing health
And the way her body trembled
Under the kiss of uncle’s belt

Bright orange saree
Left to dry on the terrace
Shimmers under the sun
Like the sweat on aunty’s forehead
Under the weight of a thousand bricks and memories
She climbs the broken staircase
Waiting for the sun to go down
So she could pay her child’s school fees

Bright orange saree
Hanging on a kitchen chair
Watching Aunty anxiously taste
The kuzhambu for uncle’s dinner
She stirs it once–no, twice to make sure
That she goes to bed without a bruise
Then uncle staggers in behind her
Her heart sinks at the stench of booze

Bright orange saree
Aunty has no idea
She’s throwing that pallu over her shoulder
For the very last time
She strings jasmines in her hair
And powders her face some more
But before she rises to leave the room
Uncle stops her at the door

Bright orange saree
Fails to veil her feverish blush
Betrays her before uncle’s eyes
He’s now sure of what’s the rush
She backs up slowly in tears
Her quivering lips whisper a prayer to God
Uncle stabs her once–no, twice to make sure
And leaves as saree licks up aunty’s blood

Heera Lilian Selvakumar is a fierce young feminist who feels strongly about Gender based violence. She studies English Literature at The Women's  Christian College in Chennai and occasionally pens her thoughts in verse.