Maria Uzma Ansari
Even though I hated the heat I had to face and the looks of distaste I would spawn from everyone because I was different from the people in my extended family, in ways they would not allow their minds to comprehend, I’d keep going back there; to sit under the shade of the mango orchards, with their scent diffused in the summer air that carried it in its lap. The weather there was far from salubrious, I hated the sun above my head.
The people were tolerable, to say the least but most of all I abhorred the women of the house and their disrelishing looks, their eyes always looking at me with discretion and suspicion. I knew there was far more difference between us than could be covered in three strides; three strides are all it took to cover the physical space between us, to go over to the women making rotis in a crowded kitchen inside which temperatures would shoot up like a blast furnace. I hated their guts and could only regard them with disgust as I’d see them move the rolling pin to and fro with a look of extreme dedication on their faces, preparing to feed generations of men. I would only eye those women with commiseration and resignation when I’d see the looks of folly and satisfaction on their faces as though they had actually believed for once that the hand that was in possession of the rolling pin could rule the world. That the sweat dripping down the side of their faces, making their scalp and forehead sparkle, collecting on their upper lips to shine bright like diamonds was salt and water that would not go to waste.
That for a moment they actually believed that they had made a contribution to society and without discerning it I knew I had believed in them too.
This work has been published in Beetle Magazine's June 2020 Issue. Read the full issue here: https://issuu.com/beetlemag/docs/june2020
Illustration by Dhanashree Pimputkar