Creative | Posted by Bindu B on 02/8/2013

My Pretty Girl, My Mother, My Devika

The very first time my father bedded
you, I wailed from the insides. Of your womb, that is. I was a
woeful little egg erupting in warning calls. My father
was the somber-faced virgin with the
hemp on his breath. And as your muscles flexed in support of
his weight, the patterns of henna adorning your arms told
stories and each was more horrible than the next. Women
balance the earth between their knees. It was the first time
since you were an infant that you were not undressing
yourself, Devika; you feared you forgot your body as it
appeared

naked. Your turmeric chiffon sari fell to the floor in a heap.
You are an immaculate folder of cloth, always. Women balance
the earth between their knees. Do strangers know how to fold
things, even? Dear Devika. I was with you everywhere. From the
fitting of your petticoat to when a priest bound you two
together by the dope power vested in coconuts and
incantations. What do you call a man and a woman the first
time they make love without really wanting to? Or do you not
call
them on it at all, and instead sit pretty inside their tubes,
praying they undo their walk over the threshold? Do you hear
those hips gnashing together? A restless jaw
in the nighttime. Devika–I could hear your toes curling.
Kajol turned your tears black, like the juice of an over-ripe
berry. To this day, the stranger beds you with averted eyes.
Devika. He will make you move one million miles. What is the
quickest way across the Atlantic, and does it include
drowning? You will never see him smile, not ever. When from
a dilated cervix, a second female is born, he will walk out
of the hospital without having touched her. He will swear
himself to celibacy. Women balance the earth between
their knees but back then, Devika,
when my father first bedded you,
he brushed away auspicious red bullets of dry rice from your
hair with unassuming tenderness. Wedding spectators thought
you beautiful. Your luxuriant black was parted severely down
the middle in a style you will come
to hate. Your anklets made music when you walked. I was s
creaming then, too–down the wedding aisle, around sacred
matrimonial fire–your life became punctuated by a tiny
misery lodged deep inside
your hips. They called you a fine couple. For what else can
you call call a man and a woman who (someday) want to
paralyze
each other? When he finished atop you he complained of
hunger. Women balance the earth between their knees. Both
parties get spent. He offered you a single
pinch from the laddoos on his bedside. Devika. The stranger’s
fingertips are like salt. You will learn that they overpower
everything. But back then, he covered your tear tracks with
marigolds,
like he were putting
a dead woman to rest. Night came. You retrieved a yellow veil
from under the covers and hid beneath it, where people might
have mistaken you for joyous.

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