Every time I am back,
my mother will often tell me
with a straight face, “Men are like that.”
Till full of doubt, and ridden with guilt
of not being wife enough,
I pack my bags eager to leave.

Then when I am on the point of return,
when I tell myself, that he is
after all a good father,
even though not a good husband,
when I am convinced that it is
after all my fault somehow,
my mother will say somewhat sadly,
“Your father was not always good to me.
But I held on you know,
for the children, for you and your brother.”
At that moment the cluster of keys
tied to the end of her sari,
will jingle,
as though a love song,
the sum of a woman’s life;
and she will have passed on the conspiracy of silence,
from one generation to another.

Tapti Bose’s writings have been published by Feminism in India and Women’s Web. She lives in Kolkata.

Featured image: Harini Calamur/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)