Anindita Farzana, Class XI, Section Green.
You’ve watched enough Carat-Lane adverts to know that having a metastable carbon allotrope strapped across your wrist will make you feel like a Goddess. That you can’t possibly be someone’s best friend unless you both wear the same brand of over-priced jeans. Your fondness for your pet insists upon you having its portrait etched onto your flesh. How can a home possibly be a home without crystal sculptures conspicuously displayed throughout the living room? Your womanhood is defined by the size of your nail-varnish collection
Pink, pink, pink? No! Salmon, amaranth, cerise.
You convince yourself there’s a difference.
That your luscious, vibrant nail lacquer is more than just an embellishment
It’s more than just a choking hazard.
You convince yourself that it defines you somehow.
You convince yourself that it’s not the symptom of an ever-abiding affliction
Eating away at your soul You feign satisfaction.
Attempt to deceive yourself into believing that you will inevitably be content
But you just can’t help it.
You can’t neglect the numbness.
You can’t evade the realization of the fact that you are hollow.
That every bargain, crotched top, red-wine tinted pair of oxford shoes
Is just another excavation. “Mum” My mother awakens at the crack of dawn to make my breakfast
She lets me lick the residual batter off the bowl whenever she makes her warm, fudge brownies
She recites “Kajla didi”, every night, to help me fall asleep
Or she would have, I guess, had she been breathing
Or, perhaps not
Perhaps she would have done none of those things. I suppose I’ll never know
Perhaps she would have adored irises as much as I do Perhaps she would have taught me how to ride a bike
Perhaps she would have admonished me for my white lies
Perhaps she would have been my best-friend
Perhaps she would have taken me up to the rooftop To while away our hours
Counting stars glimmering in the night’s glorious sky
I suppose I’ll never know.
My father is a religious man
He once told me that people could chose the length of their subsequent lives shortly before birth
Why on earth then, did she, not choose live a little longer Why couldn’t she force her vitals to work? Why did she choose to abandon me? Maybe, someday, I’ll know.
Mrs. Haider has her thick, lustrous head of hair wrapped into a bun roughly equal ,in size, to a melon
She had not run the mile since the passing of her husband.
The secret to her survival, as a widowed mother of five
Lies in the batting of her eyelashes, in her unblemished, porcelain skin In her calculated usage of her body as a swiss-army knife.
The women in her neighborhood called her a “seductive witch” She is not affronted by these terms. Not anymore She is crafty enough to use their resentment to her advantage
Her aptitude as a finagler keeps her children well-fed Her lush, floral skirts keep her home warm
Her crimson-tinted lipstick keeps a roof over her head.
In the survival of the prettiest, she is the definite victor.