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




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



Her mother

She cooked

She swabbed

She cleaned

She looked after

Other people’s



Her father

He worked

He drank

He beat up


And her mother


Her brothers


Lorded over her


Her mother

She too

Didn’t give them



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


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


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



She has to walk

Twenty minutes


To reach the tower


That’s the easy part



After work

At night

No bus


Twenty minutes


And then

The chores

At home


Her body aches

Her feet swell


Here heart

In a tiny corner

There is hope


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


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


My father-in-law’s


My sisters-in-law’s


My brother-in-law’s


My husband’s


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


They have

The operation


I won’t have


Mouth to feed


Is she wrong

To stop God’s


Her future

Would be children?


You be the judge


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