Soon she will be the property
Of a stranger—a master who will buy her
Like a sheep, goat or cow
From a village stockyard
With a nose ring and brass bells
Ringing on her neck.
Garlands of roses and jasmine
Soon turn pallid and stale.
Nose ring, forehead tika jewels
And fine silks will be memories of youth.
The sacred henna on her hands and feet
Will wash away in no time.
She will learn the words and habits
Of his harem: how to chisel her face,
How to wear a necklace of name-calling
When she forgets a button on his shirt,
Hot water for his bath. When food
Is not cooked to his taste, she will hear
Dishes break while she cracks the knuckles
Of her clammy hands.
Headaches and body-aches
Will be taken as excuses to shirk work.
She will stuff her sari in her mouth
To suppress cries.
She will age before getting old,
Die before death.
Originally printed in Big River Poetry Review 2012
copyright Shubh Bala Schiesser 2016
All rights reserved