Life – Neenu Mary, Kerala

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It was before the rains
They asked me to wear a new red sari
Which our guest, ‘Akka’ gifted.
It was dark.
Clouds pregnant with water
Covered the village in a black cloth.

A red sari,
A new one, for the first time.
Small tingling bells hanging on the pallu.
I wondered – “For me!”
None cared, nor thought of any gifting, till.

Thus the lady, ‘Akka’ came in
Wearing a bright, ornamented sari.
Her anklets chimed in the house,
Reddened lips were smiling.
I was called to the home from grounds,
Where I played with my friends
And asked to serve tea for guests.
Lady smiled at me –
“Hi beautiful, you are a tender one”
The flattered twelve, turned a slave.

My keepers sent me with her.
I wore the red sari-
My first sari-
I didn’t know how to carry it, then –
I was too young for it.
My pals, still playing,
Rounded me in wonder and
Asked to join them.
I declined,
I was going with ‘Akka’.
They were playing my favorite game.
Sadly, I followed ‘Akka’.

She entered a car
I amused at the comforts,
“I’m here for you”, Akka said.
I tried to smile,
Looked out to the streets,
Amazed at the heights of buildings,
Not my village, anymore;
I found out.
The wind washed my face,
Sung a lullaby,
I slept, deep.

I was on a bed, when woke.
A man staring at me.
I frightened and cried.
He touched my legs,
I wailed “Akka…, Help me”
Akka came in, said to man
“be gentle, she’s fresh and tender”
I clutched her hands,
Her eyes -burning in anger- turned to me,
It hushed me.
“He’s our guest, do the needful to entertain”
She shut the door.
The guest turned to a beast –
A hunting animal,
Panting after each attack –
Laughed, feeling victorious.

I opened the eyes,
My new sari and I, alike,
Torn and teared.
The tingling beads were shattered on the floor,
I was stripped and shattered on the bed.

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