I Knew of a Woman

I knew of a woman,

she would stand in endless rain

relishing in a forgotten need for umbrellas

Nose turned to sea

smelling salt breeze

cutting right across city smog

 

The sunshine in her hello

streaked radiant in rooms and hearts

Whorls of paint on her ankle

She stepped colorfully

across grey asphalts

leaving streets Monnet brushed

 

Traced patterns with a silver nailed thumb

on her henna dyed palms

Ready to karate chop patriarchy

right on the face

 

She would be herself except

the moon and the stars and the flowers

turn away and

wretch their stomachs empty at what happens here

 

The butterflies light themselves on fire

For what happens in these mountains

There is a death sentence out for everything beautiful

Or for anything just

The state and society are keeping an eye out

making sure we lick enough boots

and say nothing out of turn

 

She would be herself except

She sits at the dinner table with her family

to be told how to be her, in her best interest

Been in circles where she gets spoken over

Made to feel some inches smaller

Invited to a pseudo safe space

only to be shamed or ridiculed

to be put on trial by social media

 

She would be herself except

she once took a bus

or a rickshaw

or an uber

went to the mall

went to Gowsia

or in front of Dhaka college

 

She could be herself except

She breathed

in some corner of this broken country

How dare she

That too without orna

Without military grade artilery in her purse

and insufficient knowledge of guerilla warfare

How dare she breathe

 

 

So she wishes to be somewhere

Away is out of here

Here they clip her wings at 7pm

Or 9pm or after office hours

Here metaphors and thought caricatures

barely make it out alive or free

What chance does blood, flesh and bone stand?

 

So patronizing, almost a cliché

 

Don’t we know it already?

 

And we know desensitization is the death of conscience

 

Her stories take the shape of every woman ever close to me

 

In response my thoughts turn

at the futility of improbable comfort

And the words they die in my mouth

they roll in their graves

hold candles in protest

slam against graveyard grounds

The bile I swallow back

corrodes through my insides

shame leaves holes in my soul

They haunt me as afterthoughts

As I wonder if could have formed the words

and if they could have meant something

 

 

So I take the words to the streets

And we will break down chatro league

and their bongo friend bong fanatical nationalism

bring down the entitled rich men

and their sons entrenched in inherited power

Stand against cops abducting my friends

Throwing tearing gases at us

Breaking the arms of our bravest

 

 

And if all I am doing is screaming

for the dismantling of politically sanctioned

and administered sexual violence

I will have it echo through the streets

I will keep screaming till my voice cracks

till I am coughing blood from strained chords

And I will spit the blood in their faces

Our hands have been forced to procure sticks

To take up stones

Something is bound to break

 

The woman, she says to me

Her purple tree has no leaves left

Only shades of nightmare

hanging on trauma entrenched branches

 

So I see the darkness thin

in the waning of the night

But I don’t believe in dawns anymore

Maybe someone after me will.

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