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The story of her life….. isn’t over

The story of her life

…isn’t over

Married at fourteen

Mother at seventeen

The frail little girl

Is pregnant

Once more

—————-

Her mother

She sent her

To school

Like other children

Of other maids

—————

Her time

In school

It was fun

With her friends

….so many

————-

At home

It was different

—————

She sat hours

Stringing beads

And turning them

Into gaudy

Shining

Necklaces

—————

She had

To earn her keep

—————

She helped her mother

Do the cooking

She swabbed the floors

She washed the clothes

Her mother

She was busy

Doing other people’s

Chores

———-

Her mother

She cooked

She swabbed

She cleaned

She looked after

Other people’s

Children

—————

Her father

He worked

He drank

He beat up

Her

And her mother

—————-

Her brothers

They

Lorded over her

————-

Her mother

She too

Didn’t give them

Chores

————-

They spent their time

Playing games

On their mobiles

Her mother

Had bought

For them

—————

With the money

She earned

Stringing together

Those gaudy necklaces

—————-

The toilet

Five minutes away

Waiting in the queue

Red spots

Her life was over

————-

They could not afford

To give much

But she was pretty

————

For ten thousand

They palmed her off

Indebted forever

The celebrations

On her wedding

————-

He was older

He was drunk

He had another

————-

On the first day

Beating her up

When she resisted

————

She was fourteen

————

The family poorer

Than hers

————

The toilet now

Ten minutes away

The bathroom

Just a place

Enclosed by cloth

————-

Cloth that

Her brother-in-law

Could open at will

————

Careful she was

That frightened girl

Only bathing

When her

Mother-in-law

Was home

————-

Her mother-in-law

A maid too

Her sisters-in law

Maids too

So was she

A maid too

————-

In a new place

A tower

An ivory one

————-

She worked

In five houses

Cleaning in one

Cooking in two

Looking after kids

In another

And then

Washing dishes

In the night

————-

Hurrying home

To cook dinner

She couldn’t be late

She would be

Beaten up

———

By that old drunk

Her husband

_______

She fasted

Twice a week

Prayed

That things get better

————-

They did

For a while

—————

She conceived

—————

Take rest

Don’t exert

Eat well

They say

—————

That’s for the madams

Not her

————

Some madams

They are good

Feed her

Let her rest a while

But not the others

———

The baby’s due

A month to go

She labours on

Her labour

It began

A long time ago

———-

She’s young

A kid

She’s seventeen

————-

Her madam’s daughter

She’s in college

She’s seventeen

—————-

She packs her tiffin

Washes her clothes

Her undies

Puts them back

In her cupboard

————

The pretty ones

To wear

To the malls

And parties

————

She loves that girl

She’s friendly

And loves her back

She gave her

A pair of jeans

She outgrew

————

She couldn’t wear them

She wanted to

————-

But she gave them off

To her unmarried

Sister-in-law

————

She has to walk

Twenty minutes

Downhill

To reach the tower

————-

That’s the easy part

————-

Exhausted

After work

At night

No bus

—————

Twenty minutes

Uphill

And then

The chores

At home

—————

Her body aches

Her feet swell

—————

Here heart

In a tiny corner

There is hope

Joy

Mixed with fear

And resignation

—————

The child within

She hopes

It’s a boy

—————-

But she will

Have to leave him

Or her

With her mother-in-law

And go to work

Only to be

Back

In the night

————

One more

Mouth to feed

————

She wonders

What will happen

If it’s a girl

————

Will she live

The life she lives

Married off at fourteen

Pregnant at seventeen

—————

No she says

Firmly now

Her footsteps

Marching faster

I will not

Let her

Be me

—————

I’ll work harder

Educate her

In an English school

Send her for Tutions

————-

I’ll take my mother-in-law’s

Taunting

My father-in-law’s

Jibes

My sisters-in-law’s

Bullying

My brother-in-law’s

Ogling

My husband’s

Beatings

My madam’s grumbling

—————

But give her

A better life

—————

After my child

Is born

—————

I will go

In secret

Take a day off

From madams

To the municipal hospital

————

They don’t want

Population

They have

The operation

————-

I won’t have

Another

Mouth to feed

————-

Is she wrong

To stop God’s

Blessings

Her future

Would be children?

___________

You be the judge

————-

By Jyothsna DSouza

I’m at home
With my children
With plenty of time
To read, teach, and muse

I believe if you have
The capacity
To do good
And others
They confirm
It is good
If it’s important
For many,
Not one
One must persist
To the end,
Till all one’s
Resources
Are exhausted

Man lives on hope

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