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Dedicated to thousands of women being oppressed, tortured within the confines of their homes and bearing the brunt of the lockdown, following the COVID-19 crisis, as ‘domestic violence’, the shadow pandemic continues to reign in various parts of the globe.
On the verge of the pale moon giving way to the blurred early morning light, in the throes of mad, deadly nights when the various concoctions churning in her nomad, restless mind seduce her to slither away in their bottomless pits, traipsing away till the end of the horizon, she catches her heavy, insistent breaths and burns some more. She burns, invisible, her narratives echoing familiar truths. She burns and watches herself dying every night, a slow roasted death that she nourishes, a conjecture, an invisible challenge, an unuttered poetry slam.
She burns in a recycled ritual every dead end of the night when the virtual world entrapped in the cellphone squeezed in her fists recounts stories of awakening, healing, rising and making brave faces, enacting heroic deeds, accomplishing wondrous feats and opening up in prayers and spasmodic bursts of ill-fated news of a pandemic eclipsing the world, all at once. She is invisible yet again. Women like her, with heavy clogs between their mouths and their hearts, and no resources, beaten up within the four walls of a home during ‘stay-at-home’ orders, don’t even count as collateral damages during a widespread, disastrous global catastrophe.
From head to toe, she is between the woman and the mermaid, trapped somewhere in between the chaos and paraphernalia of the concrete jungle land of humanity and the oceanic body of surreal wants of a life in deja vu. She has been burning always every night, engulfed in the self-same crap year after year, inhaling her fair share of medicines, some inane body talk and failed meditative sessions…..She ingests the slaps of yet another windless day with not a penny pouring in, a windless night swollen with the promise of a huge, intimate world standing and waving at her, from the other end of the horizon. Just then, she absorbs her invisibility once more.
In her heart of hearts, she remains the invisible droplet of slow, deep breaths, her impatience and irritability causing no dent whatsoever in the humongous, multifaceted world. She will remain more invisible in her everyday strains, far more invisible than the multitudes of migrant workers crossing borders in desperation, crushed and bleeding in the altar of their sacrifices, written about in the eclectic dailies and journals, inhaling shallow hopes of a remedy that may never be attained.
Invisible, she will remain as the world around, old, wrinkled, will change amid lockdowns and constant pleas for allowances, insurances and cures. Invisible, she will burn, tending to her scars with leftovers of balms, and then leave them unhealed, reaching out in vain to helpline numbers across the city, the state. ‘Can you hear me?’ She will insist once more on the phone, in her muffled voice, gulping a thousand psychological deaths in between. It will take time, days, or even months, but once enacted, she can breathe unhindered, soar up above, wild and free.
Lopa Banerjee is an author, editor, translator and faculty of Creative Writing at Richland College,
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