My Mother's Silence

By Sudakshina Kashyap
My mother's silence remains clogged in her lips coloured red with blood stains
since the moment baba raped her on their suhaag raat,
her silence wants to be free from the hands that worship Durga,
the very same hands that are filled with female infanticide,
for women are slaughtered before they know that their mother's sindoor births massacre.

Marriage in my culture is a reverse theory of demand and supply,
" More the supply, more is the demand ",
so my mother's silence came with a price tag,
the parting line of her hair was filled with sindoor only with the burden of dowry.
My mother's silence buries domestic violence under her tears,
for she's not supposed to question the predator in our family;
the clink of my mother's anklets rhyme to the sounds of patriarchy,
everytime it stamps on her feet.

"ssshhh", she said,
when I complained about a sixty year old grandpa shoving his hand up my skirt from behind when I was a 10 year old.
I inherited her silence,
and kept quiet.
baba reminded me to always carry pepper spray;
The next day,
dada eve teased a girl and baba giggled, saying,
" men will be men. "
My mother looked at me,
and kept quiet.
I inherited her silence,
and kept quiet.

My blood runs each month across
the devotees of Kamakhya Devi
who don't allow me to read holy scriptures,
blood in my culture comes with a laxman rekha you aren't permitted to cross;
we're taught to gulp down our pain while blood is feted on one hand,
and silenced on the other.
We're taught to silence our agony
when men butcher our pictures in tongues enfolded with " slut ",
for we never know if acid attack is the next to choke our skins.

You see,
The lives of women in my country are a warzone,
with bullets made of patriarchy and oppression,
and silence is a battle cry in itself.

My mother's silence is a shrine
tied to the pallu of Draupadi,
Duryodhan pulled in order to undress her,
but my mother's silence
is also a prayer to awaken
the Kali in every Parvati,
her mangalsutra a garland of skulls
knotted around the neck
to let her daughter know that it's nothing,
but a call to a violent revolution.

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