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To the White Sarees of the World

Her brother has told her tales of haunting ghosts and vengeful vampires, Zombies that lurk in every corner, “I’m scared, Ma,” she shivers in the confines of my bedroom, “Never will I go out again to face those monsters.” Oh, sweet child, innocent and naive, Unbeknownst to the ways of the world, Little does she know that monsters Aren’t ghosts in palaces or creepy creatures crawling in the dead of the night, It’s sweaty bodies that jostle against you in crowded trains Whose palms so cleverly invoke the dirtiest, creepiest feeling in you While you and a hundred others stand silent, watching. Monsters are those who force your hand to someone Who beats you black and blue, till your screams are just echoes at the back of your mind, Fading away into the darkness, just like the scars; All for a pot of gold and a sheep. It’s eyes that pop out and tongues that utter disgusting impertinences while you walk by, Trying to keep your chin up for the sake of your little daughter clutching onto the edge of your white saree. Monsters go on with their assault, irrespective of how loud or earth-shattering your screams may be For monsters have no compassion, sympathy, humanity. They’re everywhere; in dark alleyways, busy main roads, and even our homes, In our bodies, minds, souls. Real monsters can’t be slain with swords by heroes on white horses in mighty battles; They can be destroyed with voices from our mouths and freedom in our souls. All of this, I want to tell her, this cruel world I want to prepare her for, But for now, I keep quiet, cradling my baby in my arms, Letting her clutch the end of my white saree, So nobody can stain hers.

-Kashish Bhimjiani

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