“If it was cotton

And not a velvet gown,

the damage would be much less.”

She tuts

talking of her neighbor, who,

doused in kerosene last night,

burnt in her velvet nightgown.

“A liability for her husband”

And I imagine little children

cowering behind dirty green curtains

every time she screams

as dull rusted forceps pick out

charred pieces of cheap velvet

fused into her flesh.

 

“It is better she dies, Boudi.

She’s no good alive.”

Kajol chips into my thought

“It will save her husband

his hard earned money.

And her, the existence

of an unclaimed corpse.”

I picture in my mind

a faceless woman.

Trading her useless life

for food on her children’s plate.

“Serves her right, silly woman!

Immolating herself over his routine slap

After a routing scuffle

between her and his mother.”

 

What would you have done, Kajol?

I ask

Had it been you?

“Me Boudi?

I would pack my bags

And leave, never to return

Back to my mother’s house

To live an idyllic life

in comfort and peace.”

 

Amen! I say.

May all of our breed

have that choice.