Wednesday, 17 October 2007

The Widow Series

In 2000, Deepa Mehta was forced to temporarily suspend work on her film, Water in Varanasi India.

i could not help but think that we were missing the point. in the whole brouhaha over the film, somewhere along the way, we forgot the most important element- the widow and her wretched life.
what follows is my protest.

The Widow 3

broken bangles
hacked off hair
strewn vermilion

unbeauty in persona
the stench of death
the soul shivers
cold and wet

mocking eyes that see unsee
the slow eroding
of reality

the wails rise
as the body lifts
in the maze of memories
eyes nervously sift

the child snatched away
the door tightly shut
the last vestige of
the cord is cut

cast off sent away
she slowly sighs
waits for another pain
waits to die
waits to die.

The widow 2

on the banks of the river Ganga
where man immortality finds
you’ll find a house that houses
women of her kind

the shorn hair, the rough cloth
are unmistakable traits
proclaim loud and long
the woman’s unfortunate fate

she is a w word
not woman, not whore
something even sinister
with a putrefied core

her life has no aim
now that the man is gone
her body is bruised and battered
her soul all tattered and torn

she lives on the banks of the river
watches the waves in the sky
her life quietly escaping
even as the water flows by

in rare moments of togetherness
from solitude her self is freed
shuffled feet and silence
that is her life, her creed

from a life of perfect disharmony
the world’s at a standstill
her heart cries out for freedom
this solitariness will kill

some of her kind were happy
they have happy memories
they talk with great happiness
till at the guilt they cease

to live and yet not to
to exist therefore to be
a barren piece of ground
in the mesh of reality

so life wasn’t a bed of roses before
but atleast it was a life
suddenly she just stops being
because she stopped being a wife

in the holy city
she is the eyesore
the pious dip in polluted waters
nothing is sacred anymore

you offer a hand of help
she stares and shakes a no
she is beyond redemption
she is the damned widow.

The widow 1

when I was five
and still alive
my mother said to me
you will be
married tomorrow
into that family
i don’t remember the days
there were lots of sweets
and harsh words
and money I saw my father pay
the little boy next to me
ate more sweets than I
my hair he drenched in red
there was a shower of rice
growing up in my father’s yard
the heavy cloth slowed my gait
the red blaze in my hair
portentous to my fate
a time came when I was sent away
to live with the man who was my lord
that is what he is my mother said
and snapped the umbilical cord
i went alone in a bullock drawn cart
hardly a weight on it yoke
going away going away
i cried emotions evoked
curious eyes assaulting me
i cringed and made my way
everything was normal
just another mundane day
i was expected
someone smiled at me
showed me a corner
my place it’d be
my now family are farmers
live off the land
hardly even touched some feet
a plough in my hand
in the hot sun
my meeting with the man
my lord funny he seemed
as human as anyone can
is this the boy
who’d eaten more sweets than me
no trace of him remained
him I could not see
back in the family house
dinner was getting made
after a day’s work I thought
will I get paid
a dim lamp in the corner
the face in patches of light
it didn’t register
my whimpers
quieter than the night
there was no lust here
let us not even discuss love
it was a duty he had to fulfil
dictates from above
the next day the bruises on my face
told everyone a tale
my mother in law was happy
her son was a man hail
the days in the hot sun
i was one with the land
the nights I clenched my teeth
and performed on demand
many a time I’d have thrown up
but held the bile in
this is wrong I’d think
vulgar obscene a sin
from these violent encounters
no issue sprung forth
a blessing I thought to myself
he’d have killed us both
one day the man died
drowned in the pond
his mistress went down with him
their entwined bodies were found
how old was i i can’t remember
my hair fell around me
my four glass bangles cut my arm
the blood dripped crazily
then I learnt I was a witch
who’d eaten up the man
i was a girl I’d thought
i didn’t understand
a bald head and coarse white
i was sent away
where was I going
i did not know
nobody had nothing to say
there is a place where the likes of me
are kept away from society
who’s too cultured to bear to see
such form such sobriety
his mistress she drowned with him
a widow’s place is born not made
she stood by him no matter what
you destroy the man it’s written in your fate
i will die here among my kind
who’re all older than me I find
i work the day
i work the night
it’s a woman this time, not a man showing might
i wish i had a happy ending for you
but reality isn’t fiction what can I do
this is the price of not knowing at all
the living dead wear a white pall.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


on the past
what might have been
had i played my cards right
and held you tight
a hidden self
a falling leaf
in a rain drenched forest
a desolate cliff breaking
rather than be
as subtle as a train
as quiet as thunder
and speak my mind
for being true
was more important
than you.