The Cleansing

He works three shifts,
while she carries out the chores.
He said this is what was right,
in a dignified household.

Alas! Her father’s wish to see her become a doctor went in vain,
for she was married at seventeen
only to never leave the house ever again.

Her mother says a girl’s shyness is innate,
“She is born to serve her prospective partner”,
a partner who refuses to acknowledge
her perspective or the thoughts she harbours.

He took her to his parent’s home,
to welcome their new daughter.
But all they could see was an underage slave,
the moment they lay their eyes on her.

They couldn’t stand a woman educated, literate.
They couldn’t trust a woman with intellect;
hence all she was given were stained metal plates,
which she was simply asked to scrape.

Exceptions were made for when she must leave the house,
only to shop for domestic tasks.
If you were to spot her in the market with her spouse,
she might appear a daughter, him the patriarch.

Two months in the hell-hole she languished,
longing for warmth in her synthetic family.
Her appearance, now frail and debilitated,
her academic laurels, now a mockery.

Then the day came,
when he longed for his kin to expand.
The lass, protecting her dignity,
grabbed her husband’s lascivious hands.

Her objection took him by surprise.

He clutched her cadaverous frame,
his eyes locked on the floor she mopped,
where a bleach bottle whispered his name.
What happened next, couldn’t be stopped.

He heard it; his eyes glistened,
She knew what was next: a facial explosive.
For him, it was the social cleansing,
where her tears were the only non-corrosive.

She roared,
the earth felt a chasm.
She screamed,
acres afar.
He carried on till she became carrion,
till her face fell into her hands, charred.

Her youth fled with her melting flesh,
now one with the fumes.
The air, pungent with vengeance,
the air her lungs consumed.

He fled; certain of what was to come,
and she lay there, accepting her fate.
As her figure turned into scum,
the angel of a domestic help came to her aid.

She opens her eyes, three days later
to find teal and tubes in her midst.
Her hazy eyes stare at her scarred arms
where wedding henna once adorned her wrists.

“Marriages are prone to ache,”
the words of her mother she recalled.
“A good wife must bear the heartbreak.”
Wait, even when your husband disowns you in an ICU ward?

Teresa Kuruvila is a budding writer and proud feminist. Her interests include literature, history, social issues and their intersections. Follow her on Instagram @notthisteresa.

Featured image credit: Reuters