Content warning: descriptions of sexual violence
There is a joyful hubbub that engulfs
Delhi’s streets; the city has become a
character within herself. With reckless
drivers and careless pedestrians,
negotiations and buyers, strays —
scattered — weaving themselves
between the wheels of rickshaws
that rest, impatiently, for commuters.
A fine dust settles over the market
stalls offering embroidery, bangles and
all things clay.
The colourful charisma cannot paint
over the murky underbelly of her inhabitants.
The Boy and the Girl:
She drops the marble; I see it fall
and roll around the uneven ground.
(I think) she is pretty.
I pick it up. I like the way it feels as I trace
it back and forth over the grooves indented
in my hand. I offer it to her. Assured she will
take the unblemished sphere that gingerly
balances on the flat of my palm. A gesture.
Friendship. Something good. But she looks
frightened? And now, a fistful of sand
accompanied by rocks, are in my eyes,
mouth…this time the earth barely scratches
my skin before my forehead bloodies
the uncaring dirt.
The metro, ablaze with luminous lighting,
overlooks the hand that grazes the arched spine.
The Girl and the Man:
There is no hesitation as his hands
explore the crevices of my body.
(I feel) no kindness in his grip.
His breath is uncomfortable against the
cusp where my neck meets my shoulder
blades. He grasps my breasts, and there is
an unrelenting pressure as I squint at the
sun strewing its warmth across my cheek.
His hand is pressed against my jaw and he
pushes himself into me. Now, his moans are
quick and frequent, a disarray of need. But
Tormented | Tortured | Terrified
and he finishes.
touchable in all ways but one.
The Old Men and the Young Boys:
Excitable words tripping over their tongues in
earnest haste to taunt and jeer just like their Bhaiyas.
(Don’t they know) we’ve seen it all before.
Crisp cut shirts tucked into shorts that
show off the battered kneecaps of cricket
players, footballers, an affluent father and
a beautiful mother. We’ve sat, along this
roadside and endured the abuse that
disguises the false bravado that tumbles from
their mouths. We see the scuffed shoes, kicking
stones towards our bare feet. Now, we sit, in
the hot Delhi heat and witness the ingrained
fear that clouds the judgment of these
highly educated boys.
Cars weave in and out of the traffic, stopping, only once,
for a cow that stands in amongst a mound of plastic bags.
The damp smog disbands and allows the moon, submerged in
light, to hover above the wide pathway leading to India Gate.
Delhi withdraws and her people return home to prepare their
evening meal but there are a few who remain, untouched.
A faint breeze waltzes across the city.
Monsoon season is starting.