Next doors, on the next floor,
I see a woman, everyday.
On some days, she looks at me with her eyes lifting off the newly mopped floor
On other days I find her staring blankly at the cloudless sky.
Her eyes, some days kaleidoscopic,
Some days achromatic,
A blank verse.
Her eyes hold her summertime sadness
And her happiness as capricious as melting snow,
While she stretches herself between her found past and lost future.
She ends up falling,
From her core,
Like dough being stretched from both sides.
She picks herself up again,
And folds herself in her kitchen,
Like dough that fell while stretching.
She sways but never falls,
like a bobo doll
She always plucks a flower from her garden,
Like it was given by her first love,
Or, by no one.
Her lips, scarlet yet pale,
She speaks three lines a day, a haiku.
But I hear three hundred sixty-nine, an epic.
Every fortnight, when the moon faces the west,
She picks a few sheets, thumbed and joint together,
She reads to herself,
In a melancholic tone.
Just like her grandmother did.
She too was like Cinderella,
But Cinderella never mopped the prince's floor.
She smiles slightly,
when she looks at the new frame,
that embraces her old photograph.
And both smiles find similes between each other,
They look similar and are yet different.
She smiles again to drop the previous one,
like a wisteria that sheds its mauves.
She wears her enigma and dances with the moonlight,
While she talks of the days she loved.
She looks at the calendar and finds her birthday marked.
She knows again,
she will shed another part.
These parts first emerged when this glass doll fell
smashed into pieces.
Like a snake, she performs ecdysis
and every year a part of her is gone
until there is no more left to lose.
Thirty-nine years, and she lost herself twenty-nine times since she was ten.
Her Barbie doll was thrown,
She had to ‘grow up’.
She was ten after all.
But when she tried to pick up a sword,
They told her ‘no’
She was a ‘girl’ after all.
Dad no more played ‘throw me up’ with her,
She could no more touch the sky,
She looked up in envy,
While the sky stared back with prejudice.
Crimson and scarlet defined her now,
Every statement carried a clause,
and every clause a red stain.
Her calendar started being marked with red pen.
She was praised five times,
Her achievements were twenty-five,
While her brother was cheered a hundred times
But his achievements were ten.
During all her math classes she used to question
When did her parents’ ‘half love’ for each turn into one fourth for her.
The playground and the streets only heard the voices of boys
And never her laughter and cries.
‘Do not go outside; it is unsafe,' she was told
Her mother constantly reminded
‘Darling the world outside is dark,
Keep the doors of the heart closed'
She finally learnt a hundred such phrases.
She got a rose for the first time,
A fallen one.
She knew another first love was rejected,
Alas! she lost a love.
Her best friend changed from her mother to a collection of papers.
Her secrets changed from new toys to young boys,
She lost the pages of her heart with each rejected letter
She lost her mirror friend, who she thought was no better.
The kid was lost,
She finally grew up,
But her feet told a different story
When they swung in the air to
‘If you are happy and you know it…’
Lean body wrapped in red
Her hands painted with heena.
And her lips sealed with lipstick.
The artist yesterday became a canvas today.
The chaste woman,
Now belonged to a man.
She used to scream out her insecurities,
He used to burn her purity.
laughter and shrieks.
She left her cries in the tears of a child’s eyes.
Wrinkles and stretch marks
Loose skin and spots so dark.
She was ageing,
Losing her clear young skin.
But a mother of two, didn’t care for such petty matters,
She didn’t give a lark.
‘Study well, be polite’
She told her children.
‘We will, we will’
Was all she heard.
‘Spend less, listen to me’
She pleaded with her husband.
‘I will, I will’
Was all she got.
She did not know when she had lost the respect for which she had always fought.
Words left unheard.
Prayers left unheeded.
Shrieks lost in vacuum.
And she in her gloom.
She reminisces about the old,
While she loses the new.
As the day begins she collects her scattered words,
And tries to string them together with each chore.
Every Sunday she watches 'Roman Holiday'
Maybe she too wants her freedom,
Maybe she too wants to go back.
But like a 'macaw' that gently leaves her feather,
She too leaves her free past.
And when she blinks every three seconds,
I find the colour of her eyes changing.
From the darkest oceans,
To the lightest lilacs.
From the tiniest saplings,
To the tallest leaves.
From the withered clematis,
To the blooming arabella.
From the roses that she never got
To the blood she always bled.
From the dying dandelions,
To the fresh fallen snow.
And from the lightest night sky,
To her dark black eyes.
I find stories in her,
Unwritten so far.
Every 30 hours she drops an eyelash ,
Just like she dropped her dreams and hopes,
While she was busy becoming
She is an ode to herself,
And a ballad to others.
And by the end of the day,
She becomes a poem.
A poem that is never written or read.