Dr. Sumitra Mishra, INDIA

THE *AGNI PARIKSHA

There was a question
Followed by
A silent nod, weaving a “No” in the air.

Followed by
A chilling hateful look
An attempt to grab by the bun
Then the inevitable invective, “Slut!”,
Then the chasing around the bed.

Tears welling up and slurping
And an affirmative “No” in the pleading eyes.

Followed by
The smacking, the blows, the curse
Causing blistering wounds 
On the body she lent to be licked
Every night under the cloak of love.

Followed by
“Tell me the truth!”
With malice in his eyes
A hard push threw her on the bed
She fumbled and collapsed like a pillow
He got up panting like a running leopard
Twisted his fingers around her neck like a cobra.

Followed by
A struggle to wriggle out
To be pushed again very hard
The curtain was not yet drawn.

“All you women are sluts!” 
There was a pull, a tug that tore the skirt
She could no more tolerate the humiliation
The daily hunting and the Agni Pariksha
The darkness surrounding the question on her chastity 
She ran out into the darkness like a chased doe
And shut the door for ever like Nora Helmer.

*Agni Pariksha = Trial by fire


DID YOU HEAR HER SCREAM?

None seemed to hear her
Muted shout or terrified scream,
The running water in the sink drowned
Her muffled cries, choked with a kitchen towel!

His lips sucked her saucy lips
Bloody
His hands groped and grabbed her softness
Tight
The pain in the groin left her nerves
Numb
When he forcibly pushed himself into her
Fiercely
Yet she could not scream;
Afraid
Of the dark tunnel of shame
For she knew, everyone would say,
It was her fault;
She smiled too much.

She did shout,
“Hey, don’t you dare to touch me!”
But her words became smoke
In the heat of his passion
He tip-toed, closed the door, switched off the light
Confidently
Like a habitual burglar, or a muggy predator.

She tried a kick and push
When he groped between her thighs
She tried to scratch and bite
When she could no more bear the pain,
She was getting bruised, burnt, bloodied,
Her fists wrenched in anger
She was silently dying forever,
Yet did anyone hear her silent SCREAM?


BLOOD WEEPING

“A curse!”, they say.
“A disease!” the ignorant claim.
“Defiled they are!”, they frown.
They don’t understand
That the womb weeps blood periodically
For she realizes
She lost another chance
To be the God, to create,
To harness the life seed.

They believe blood weeping is a curse
On womanhood
A curse for Eve’s sin
“Temptation!!!”
That devastated men’s godliness and the Eden.

They bar blood weeping women’s entry
Into temples, kitchen, bedrooms,
Segregated, quarantined like the AIDS victims
They sleep isolated on discarded mats
Like infected pets
Like abjured refugees
Women are impure during their blood - weeping period
They should not pollute the temple or men
But the juice of the bleeding hole is the tastiest
Men can’t resist the temptation,
What say, you men?

But feel not ashamed women
Your blood weeping is not Eve’s sin
It’s the holy path to eternity
The ceremony of survival
For this Paradise, the Earth
We have made our home and heaven
A gift not given to men!


Dr. Sumitra Mishra, researcher, scholar and writer, is a retired English Professor from Odisha, India. She taught English language and literature to postgraduate students in different colleges and universities in Odisha. She has to her credit, three published anthologies of English poetry titledPenelope’s Web”, Flames of Silence” and “The Soul of Fire”, two volumes of Odia poems, two volumes of Odia short stories, and a play. Her latest collection of English poems “Still the Stones Sing” is under publication.


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