Timing is Everything
Timing is everything
She did not say “no” in the beginning.
How could she?
When he came seeking
All the answers
That seemed to lie
Only within her.
When she realised
It was not to seek
But to impose
His own answers
That he had come
She did retract
While there was still time,
But time is relative,
And usually not one of hers.
She did not say no in the “beginning”.
Homecoming is a path paved with lights;
A suspended sentence, after passing a trial by fire.*
*In Ramayana, there was a huge celebration and Ayodhya was decorated with lights when Rama returned from exile to take his place as the king. Sita, ont he other hand, had to take a fire test after she was rescued from demon king Ravana’s captivity, before she was accepted as the faithful wife and the rightful queen.
The demons within
Kaikeyi could ask as she had been granted two vouchers to redeem,
Otherwise the palace women had no voice or wish, or so it seemed.
So when Surpanakha spoke boldly and upset the apple cart,
To cover up their nervousness, the men called her a tart.
A woman’s outspoken desires cause consternation,
The flustered listeners resorted to mutilation.
Ravana wasn’t the chestbeater to whine that his venerable nose had been obliterated by his sister’s act,
But the princes proceeded to destroy Surpanakha’s, one with violence, the other being complicit in the pact.
While the justice league smirked and thought that they had served an ace,
Posterity wonders if by cutting off Surpanakha’s nose, they did not spite their own face.
Writing a wrong
“If my daughter can lift Shiva’s bow,
Her suitor’s threshold can’t be set low.”*
Patriarchy needs male forearms to be more sinewed,
Even if the woman has been with brawn power imbued.
Visibly unflinching, Rama reeled under the expectation’s weight
Before he could be rid of it, Sita would have to have a long, long wait.
The Swayamvara was all wrong, the woman shouldn’t have set the task
To understand this she must follow him into the forest, no questions asked.
Boundaries had to be defined,
Sita needed to be confined.
Crossing the line, for her, was no big matter,
When all it meant was a change of captors.
But it was another occasion for Rama to show her her place,
The god she had pedestalized now pushed her from grace.
Now it would be as it should be, the man would set the test,
Wagging tongues about who wore the pants could be finally put to rest.
To accept or to reject must be his decision,
About the order of things there must be no confusion.
Once the rules were clear, she could sit by his side,
A woman can be the queen, after the king so decides.
The scales had been set right, a jubilation had to follow,
For the photo to be clicked and hung in the temple, Sita must bury her sorrow.
Freezing Ahalya’s body into stone
Was an act of pity, not punishment;
It is better to turn stone cold,
Than to feel and not be fulfilled.
This is not that home
We were told
“Go back where you had come from,
When we returned
We found we had the right address
But the wrong home.
They were already there,
Saying it was as much their home
As anyone else’s
And because, you know, their home
Therefore, you see, their rules.
If any of us dared to object,
We could go elsewhere
What were you just doing?’
I suspect surprise and curiosity
In these lines my sister utters
But the slight frown and the quickness of tone
Make it seem like mild admonition
Emerging out of annoyance.
So my grandmother stops.
And now I’ll never know
How it went,
Done while fingering her nose pin
Eyes screwed to focus on a blank,
Body leaning forward, swaying slightly.
I would have liked to know
How the tune turned and ended,
Hummed as a lullaby to oneself.
To be so poor
That you can’t afford
Your own laughter,
That it must be
At another’s expense,
That you be allowed
Only a joke
Except it never is
It won’t be
Not one, not any, not many
Would be enough
My desire is a twirl
Poised to become a poem.
I swat it into logic.
You thought the day I first wore lipstick,
I became a show-off,
Got a stiff upper lip,
When all I did
Was to nervously cover up
The run-over colour on my teeth.
When you ask, “How are you?”
You’re asking how I am,
How I continue to be
Day after day
In this world
That’s going to take longer than a jiffy
So I suggest you come back later
When you’re looking to specialise in the course,
Not betting that you’d just browse and breeze through it.
A flicker, a shiver, a flash of the old spark:
That’s all the warning we get
Of a seemingly sudden
And actually quietly brewing death
That starts with simmer, ends with boil
Because of loose contact
Because we lose contact
I’d rather pay for my words
Than have others pay for my silence.
That I even have a choice
Is because for me others had raised their voice.