At a traffic signal

A face behind the glass. Eyes shut and face made up. Like a corpse on it’s way to another world. She was colored grey by the glass.

Car’s honk and rev their engines. The signal isn’t red anymore. A girl run off the road, finding her bearings. She reaches for her coins; she still needs more money.

A woman wakes, feels cold in the air conditioned air and see prints of a little girls hands on her window.

Amelie

Ah, there she goes again. Curious little creature. And its’s… 8:30 now. I have a feeling she’ll be gone for a long time.

She’s got something about her. Maybe that’s why I can’t paint the woman. There’s this whiff of destiny- look at that gait- a bit of fear too. Perhaps it’s time I offer a bit of help. How long has it been? Half a century? Maybe more. Back when things were still different. I think I spent months working on my painting. I wonder what a young and virgin eyed version of myself would say if someone told me I was going to paint the same thing every year. Maybe I would be happy, happy about knowing.

Who was that other girl? I think I remember her. The one with silky,yellow curls who pranced around in her apartment when I was young. I can’t remember her name. Years. Years I spent looking out through my window. they say the world changed. All I see is another woman at the window, in shadows where my dreams paint in the blanks. I wonder if I really want to know who she is. But Amelie seems so permanent.

Like the woman in the painting, captured on canvas now and forever. That is of course, only if I manage to paint her. To copy the window, that seems to have her preserved forever. But first my bones of glass will have to carry me far. to understand her I must tell her all I know. Tell her not to make my mistakes. To look through no windows.

Poor Rapunzel

Poor Rapunzel locked away in her room, her corner, her gender. Poor, poor Rapunzel. Didn’t she understand it was for her own good? Why are women so blond yaar? We just have their best interests in mind but they never see.

Look at her now. Choking down tears. What’s the point in suppressing tears? She looks so ugly like that. Don’t even get me started on how annoying the muffled sobs of girls are. Why is she ashamed? If she was a boy we wouldn’t have let her cry. If she was a boy all these problems wouldn’t be there. Now who will marry her? She looked like a cow, but now she’s a buffalo.

What is this short hair hungama? Doesn’t she care about her looks? It is not Indian culture. We’ve lost our standing now. All the neighbors have seen. They’ll say look at that girl; they’ll never come to her wedding. She’s marked. She’s almost worthless on the marriage market now. We let her color her hair. We sent her to medical. But still she cut those beautiful locks.

She’s lucky. She doesn’t understand. If this was Pakistan, no? How much more a villager would have done if she’d gone all over the city after with a boy who, god forbid, might be Muslim. So lucky she is. Anywhere else this would call for an honor killing. She’s lucky a beating is all we gave to remind her of her place, to punish her for cutting her hair. Now we’ll have to find a better astrologer. The family will have to sell a few kidneys, but hopefully we’ll find one of these Americanized boys for her. Some of them like short hair.

But we? We are martyrs. So much we have to suffer. This would never happen in my Grandfather’s day. This would never happen in your Great Grandfather’s day. What to do? Kids these days. We should have been smart and kept her at home. One day a prince will take her and make her his long haired prize, just you wait.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping beauties parents, who lived like rich kings and queens with greasy palms, went to high-funda doctors and posh, posh hospitals where people were only allowed to speak if they had fake accents.

There, they ordered food delivery [hospital food is so cheap!] and spent more than nurses in government hospitals make more in their entire lives. The hospital photographer with his fancy DSLR jumped around the smiling relatives in silk sarees, next to the posh king size beds and screaming, bleeding mother. No one heard the father ask for an extra stitch. All relatives said baby looks “nice, nice”. Mean relative later said “looks just like the father”. The silk fairies were busy posing for the hopping photographer, but fairy god mother [some dam mid-wife] placed a terrible curse on the baby. The entire room gasped as the curse was laid. “It’s a girl” the mid-wife said.

Poor beauty, everyone always thought she was asleep. While she grew up uncle, auntie, tha-tha, everyone said “Where is your son?”, “Who will pass on the family name?”.  Beauty said “I will, I will”. They didn’t hear and recommended herbs, Ayurveda doctors everything and anything. Beauty’s Mummy-Daddy tried everything, did everything and every position – front to back, top to down and back to back etc. But still no boy baby.

Beauty went to school where all girls were sleeping. Teacher said “Good job Rohan”, “Good job Mohan”. Rohan and Mohan were very naughty and girls very quiet, but teacher didn’t look at the girls. To teacher all girls were sleeping or should be sleeping.

Mummy-Daddy became Mom-Dad and also very sad. They had said “Medical,Medical” but since beauty liked history she actually started sleeping. Neighbor aunty said she likes sleeping so much, she sleeps at every David’s and Rahul’s house she goes to.

Beauty doesn’t last forever so Beauty was sent to the house of a nice boy with fair skin, from nice family from nice village. Nice boy had MBA, didn’t ask too much dowry and had nice caste background. Beauty went into manufacturing, cooking and housekeeping fields, and thought she was happy. But unfortunately her children were doomed to grow up and forget that she wasn’t sleeping.

Poor Beauty! Nice boy with fair skin also liked sleeping in other people’s houses. He had always wanted to be Bad boy but his mamma wouldn’t let him. One day Beauty decided since everyone thought she was sleeping she’ll actually go to sleep. Many expensive sleeping pills she had with elegant wine. Everyone came in silk sarees and said “Look at that Beauty! If only she wasn’t sleeping.”