Ananya Birla



As she unfolded crease by crease
She felt him, hidden somewhere in the breeze
For his clothes still reeked of him
Surviving his presence – an ‘un-earthed’ coffin
His coffin, the mother of her tears
The manifestation of her worst fears.

She broke down, she couldn’t take it anymore
Her heart felt numb, prey to an emotional uproar
She stood there, dead, fading away into the past
As memory after memory upon her its shadow cast.

The first time she’d seen him, she’d blushed
He too had felt his heart pound, his blood rushed
Their marriage had been most ceremonious
But now it feels that there was something erroneous
For their bond should’ve lived on for seven ages
It should have withstood all of Time’s ravages
But the stark reality stood in dark contrast
For seven ages didn’t for seven years last.

Shatter! A sound breaking into her ears came
But this time it wasn’t her, it was a photo-frame.
She rushed yonder and found
Her daughter standing still, as if bound
The floor was smeared with pieces of glass
But the photo was still intact, irresolute, brass.

The daughter ran out, perhaps she was scared
But the mother silently at the photo stared
Ah! What a day it was – the ocean and the beach
Ah! What days those were – happiness was in her reach.

Together they four used to sing, play and dance
Remembering fond memories she went into a trance.

Her elder daughter, adolescent, confused
All day she mused and mused
But the feelings of her heart were left unsaid
For her confidant was now dead
Frustrated, she would sometimes fight
Irrespective of her mother’s plight
But later, alone, she would in guilt cry
‘Cause she knew that she must try
To help her mother, comfort her
Not upset or hurt her.

At least the daughter has someone to shout at
The mother is too lonely to savour even that.

The mother feels guilty for another cause
Despite help from her family and in-laws
She is burdened by the guilt of making bleak
Her daughters’ future as she is financially weak
Despite her spinal injury, the life of a school teacher she decides to live
But every luxury, every comfort to her children she will strive to give
Her husband’s pension would also have been considerable denomination
But will the pension officer ever stop her exploitation?

She can’t even ask another man to help her above her situation rise
For then society will look at her condemningly, with victimising, questioning eyes.

“I couldn’t have cried in front of her, didi”, the younger sister wept
Oblivious that her sobs over the window, and into her mother’s trance leapt
“She’s already in too much trouble
My tears, my weakness will make it double.”

The mother escaped trance, entered reality
Inspired by her daughter’s words’ vitality
If a seven-year-old can be so brave
Then why should she the past crave?


She said to herself, out aloud
“I will make him proud
My children will be with every happiness endowed
For I’m not dead, I’m only widowed.”


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