Competition Entry #13 | Freedom to Dream: India at 70


ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogging Competition Shortlisted Entry


 A Realistic Indian Dream
By Aditya Sinha, 20 years old, Maharashtra


Mother we need to fire the maid
It is fairly obvious that she is doing a lousy job –
For dusted under the carpet
I found a bundle of stereotypes
Unaddressed letters containing violent histories
Making circles through the mail for centuries now.


Mother, these letters in shades of saffron and green feel like
Goosebumps under my skin
As though my flesh cowers in response
To the red ink uniting these half torn pages
Reminder of clotted wounds from
Bullet holes shared in our past
As though the tree they cut down for this paper
Did not leak sap but blood
As though the leaves that fell on two sides of a border
Forgot about each other —
As countries dissected, blood dried quicker than water.


Mother, they sealed the envelopes
With a fair amount of ignorance in their saliva or was it an ego glue-stick —?
I cannot tell, and neither can all the voices stitched into silence.
My ears pressed to the dusty pages, Mother
I fear that these whispers I hear are actually
Screams muffled in currency notes that are held back
By a dam spelled like D-E-M-O-N-etization erected with bricks baked in
A furnace called bureaucracy
Broken only by a thousand lit candles on the street; their collective
Heat and purpose melting shackles, let alone the needles sewing these lips shut.


Mother, do I have the liberty to voice the concerns expressed in these letters?
My tongue will be labelled too bold;
Too long
Unlike the hem of my skirt even when it reaches my ankles;
Too dark
Like the melanin unwilling to deter from her throne
Her martyrs resting under the flag of beauty standards;
Too defiant
A queen against who wars have been waged from
Surrounding kingdoms of rape and misogyny.


Mother, on second thoughts, I think the maid should stay
Address these letters to her demons:
Send out a couple extra to poverty,
And few less to oppression.
The replies will be answers in the form of bedtime stories
Telling her son it is okay to cry;
Her daughter would read them without the fear of it being snatched away.
Sleep would not be forced to hoodwink hunger
Dreams would not be a luxury.


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