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Tears Streaming Down Her Face, She Kept Making Rotis As That’s What She Was Taught

Posted: February 3, 2021

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She hid the money and gave it to her daughter-in-law. She loved her son more but she knew her daughter-in-law deserved it more!

Trigger warning: This post contains mentions incidents of domestic abuse which may be triggering to survivors.

As she was kneading the dough
Her mother in law pulled her hair
Don’t make the dough too tight,
If it wasn’t for the dowry
She muttered under her breath

The sisters-in-law tittered
And dough became black
Ma where did you get this kali kaluti from
Said the sisters-in-law.

She made the dough into small balls,
And continued making rotis
As she tasted the salted water on her lips

She had won a scholarship in class six
She knew all her tables so well
But she got married when she was in the eighth class
She was kali, not Uma

Kali shorn of all power but with her colour
She hid four rotis in the saltbox
She was always hungry

Maa had told her never come back
Stay in your sasural
The thoughts were jumbled in her mind

As she clenched her muscles
He looked at her
Kali he said
And continued
It was over
Kali he said and spat.

In the hospital room
Old and cancer-ridden
Her son held her gnarled hand
And she saw he had tattooed her name on his arm
And she felt the salt on her lips again.

She was sixteen,
Round and fat,
With laughter that would boom
In the whole house.

And then came the partition
She was married to a
Fifty-year-old,
To protect her, her mother said
Protect her or to revile her no one knew,

Six kids later
When she was forty
He died.

She was still round and fat
With gusty laughter,
She always looked for validation,
Lying on her death bed she giggled,

The shopkeeper next door said
My eyes are very nasheeli.
Are they she asked
You are beautiful I told her,
Did your husband never tell you that?

She sighed,
I don’t remember,
I just remember he was old
And used to hit me every day
He thought I was making eyes
at the next-door neighbour.

Were you I asked,
Yes that was the only rainbow
In my life
She died an hour later.

Lali Malik loved her son
Her only child
No one was like him

If he drank too much
It was fine
If he misbehaved with his wife
It was fine

And then partition happened
Lali Malik got 7000 rupees
From the government
For the haveli she left behind,

She hid the money ,
And gave it to her daughter-in-law
She loved her son more,
But she knew her
Daughter in law was needier
And much more deserving.

Picture credits: Still from TVF’s web series Yeh Meri Family

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