Saturday, October 16, 2010


  “Excuse me,” a little girl said from behind her, “I want to pass.”
    It was that inescapable feeling again sweeping over her. It was that sense of long lost  innocence brought by the wideness of those girl’s eyes. The distant past of laughter and ignorance pressed like a hidden wound. And now that she was  impure, it all seemed so far away.
    “Of course,” she said with a smile that poured bitterness into her face.
    She pushed her way through people and the humid molecules of air. Her voice of thought was an imperceptible susurrus transgressing against the noises in the street. Sometimes, it would be silenced altogether. She’d hold her breath and pray she didn’t forget it somewhere in the crowds.
    After getting lost within the grey concretes of streets for many hours, she bought the cigarettes and headed back home.
   “What took you so long?” her mother said, “ Do you even realize what could happen if your dad came and realized you were not home yet?!”
 She passed her mother without a glance wearing her mask of indifference.
   “And can you imagine what the neighbors may be saying right now,” she went on, “ ‘She can’t raise her daughter’, ‘Her daughter enters the house by herself at 9 PM’,” The mother so perfectly mimicked  those woman looking through the cracks of every door and whispering to each other in that wicked voice what they  saw. Perhaps it came out so well  because she was one of them.
   She entered the room and closed the door behind her. Her mother fiercely flung it open. “I’m not done yet,” she said hoarsely.
   “In half an hour, I want you dressed. Your aunt called and said she found a suitor for you. Now don’t you dare drive him away like you always do.”
    She opened her bag and got out a cigarette. When her mother wasn’t looking, she lit it and put it between her lips.
 Everything fell into an ominous silence. That silence before the storm.
   “Oh dear! I can’t believe my eyes. Oh dear..Oh dear! What have I done God to deserve such a thing for a daughter. Oh dear!” and then she shouted, “Throw that thing away!”
  She now looked her mother’s way, with a cloud of smoke surrounding her. “But you can’t make me do it. Now, I became addicted and if I try to stop, I’ll look so bad nobody will want to marry me.” Her voice was ever so calm and to further infuriate her mother, she said that smiling.
   “I said throw this thing away!”
   “You are mad because now you can’t control me. You are mad because I am not saying yes to whatever you say. Admit it,  you never loved me. Dad never loved me. You all wanted to have a boy. Why didn’t you just kill me when I was born instead of torturing me like that?”
   “I said throw this thing away!”
     “You just want to get rid of me. Every breath that comes out of me is a shame. I am a walking shame. You bring all kind of ugly men and have me sitting at one side of the room dressed like a pretty doll while deciding who you will sell me to. But you see, I am not going to get dressed tonight, because I don’t want to get married.”
    She looked around to find herself thrown on the ground, droplets of blood coming out of her cheek. Her mother had slapped her.
   Her mother stood panting and when she was able to regulate her breath, said, “You will get dressed and one day or another, you will get married. You are a  woman. That’s what women do.” She heard the door being shut.
   Minutes, long minutes lasted with her lying on the ground. Everything pressured her down she couldn’t find the strength to stand up. The world was tumbling down around her. She was not good anymore. She was not innocent anymore. Everybody looked at her that way. Long ago, she had taken off the dress of  purity to stand naked in the wind. Everybody wanted to cover her up because she was the incarnation of their hidden desires. She always looked proud in her nudity. But her mother said that women’s job in life is to get married and obey their husbands. The bitterness aroused in her soul. She couldn’t bear the weight of her breasts, the weight of her body, the weight of being a woman. She couldn’t escape what she is, She couldn’t burry it so that nobody would see it. She was their walking shame. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she saw how anger twisted her face giving it such an evil look. So many times, she had stood up confessing her impurity to herself and was happy with it. So many times all she wanted out of life was not virtue but freedom. Now, her nakedness looked so painful. Now, she was faced with the realization she always wriggled. She is a woman. Women get married. That’s what women do. In that, she found a way to be good again. She stood up and started getting dressed.


JeffScape said...

I like the angle; I like the interpretation. The perceptions you reveal in your writing are beyond your years. You're good.

Not sure about how clean that ending is, though.

Brian Miller said...

actually i think the resignation in the end plays well against the strength she showed in the face of her mother...she was so strong yet gave in...very nice maha...

Mehak said...

this had me gripped from start to end.

i didn't like the end though.

she shouldn't give in. she can win the fight. i know in real life, it often doesn't work that way but she should win.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

No, every body envied her, because they could never be as bold. And they talked about it, laughed about it, but inside they wanted to be like her.
That they could not be, and so, the suppressed her.

Sumit Sarkar said...

Very deep...Very very well written... :)
True nature of the old society...

Women really shouldn't obey their husbands..rather they both should respect each other and each other's decisions...

“You will get dressed and one day or another, you will get married. You are a woman. That’s what women do.”
"She is a woman. Women get married."

Don't men get married too?
It's a big deal for men too...but many of them don't think like me though..

Tom said...

interesting--a little disjointed, but i like the insights

Julie said...

I like this very much, Maha. You have set up the inner conflict just as well as the external conflict. The impurity of simply having a female body is well portrayed.

I like the ending. I think it true to life. She will win eventually, but it might take more times of biting her lip just yet.

Baino said...

Hi Maha . . must be a conflict that many women feel in the face of arranged relationships. I didn't quite get why she felt 'impure', the transition to her feelings about her body was a bit sudden but thoroughly understood her frustration at having to bend to convention.

PattiKen said...

This is quite moving. I suspect this is a conflict felt by many women raised and living in a society that represses them and fails to respect them as equals. It must be horrible.

Tanvi said...

There was envy inside them, she was different thats what made them tickle!

Wonderful piece....
Keep happy blogging!


rantravereflect/ jane said...

:) i like de nude interpretations--> but yehh, it's weird that we always coem a full circle. We neevr actually take the tangent. watch teh movie 'the duchess'--> tahts how it ends.. arghhh

THE BEATY said...

I loved the first lines of it. Great story

margg. said...

i know i say this to you all the time, but, you are seriously, so amazing.

everything you write, is so encapsulating.


Amanda said...

She couldn’t bear the weight of her breasts.....the weight of being a woman.

there are some simply stunning phrases here. you paint a gripping portrait of oppressiveness and rebellion --her capitulation at the end wasn't expected --- wondering why?

Not For Jellyfish said...

Definitely don't let this character give in. It doesn't fit with the character you built. Very nice story... Work on the grammar!

She Writes said...

I like what you did here, and especially the line about what she couldn't bear! Nicely done! There could be more to this story.