HOW DO I TELL YOU?

HOW DO I TELL YOU?

How do I tell you –

You, the girl with

the hair sticking out

from the centre

of her head

because

it has been oiled

more carelessly

than the rest

of her scalp –

how do I tell you

what your mother does?

How do I tell you –

You, the seven year old

who keeps talking to me

in Bengali,

hoping that one day,

someday, I’ll reply

In the same tongue–

how do I tell you

what your mother does?

How do I tell you –

You, who intently

cradles her infant brother

trying to teach him the alphabet

so that he does better than all the

others at school –

how do I tell you

what your mother does?

How do I tell you –

You, the playful child

who keeps making up

new games in her head

and teaches me

every single one of them

because she is tired

of being the “big girl”

who has to play

the baby games

all the time –

how do I tell you

what your mother does?

How do I tell you –

You, who keeps asking

for my dupatta

because she wants to

act the part

of the new bride

when they all play “house” –

how do I tell you

what your mother does?

How do I tell you

what your mother does

for a living

when you ask me –

persistently,

pleadingly,

insistently

ask me

every day

until

I am tired

of changing the topic

of conversation?

How do I tell you

that your mother

invites men to her bed

for a living;

that she wears

provocative clothing,

red lipstick

and roses

not for the man she loves,

but to entice the man

walking past her door

so she can survive

for another day;

that she would rather

you and your brother

grow up believing

that you don’t have a mother

than let you both

stay with her

in the tiny room

where she works;

that she leaves you

at the crèche

all day

and most nights

because

she wants to

shield you from

the cruel terrors

of the world

and not because

she doesn’t love you;

how do I tell you

all these things?

You think

your mother is

like Wonder Woman,

and you should –

she is.

She does everything

she can to protect you.

She does everything

she can to educate you.

She does everything

she can to give you a better life.

A life that is better

than hers,

at least.

But how can i

tell you

all these things

when I don’t know

if you will continue

to see her

in the same light

after I

answer your question?

————–

About the Author: This article is contributed by Aashna Banerjee, our Intern.

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