The flesh of the night hangs loose, stale,
Around the cryptic cities where I roam.
My skull, the tautness of my skin,
My bones, joints, the fatty cells
And flesh in between, the conduits of my blood
All dried, nibbled on, burnt away,
The pitch dark sky creeps, moonless,
Laughing with its vicious fangs.
Glowing was the night as we had soaked in
The sweetest breaths of her descent.
The night had shone in our bodies.
The two of us, young lovers, brimming with moonlight
In the city bus, gazing from the window
At the luscious asphalt sky.
We were returning home from a feast of a film
The flawless, vital light of the night wrapped us
Nearby somewhere, that night, black owls screeched
Serpents crawled over us, coiled around me in
Vehement strokes and shoving. The window
Of our moon-watching banged shut, inside the bolted bus
The smothering, the cussing, the shoving
Bathed me in blood. Far into the night,
The pallid moon crooned feverishly.
They kicked away my body, and
That of my bleeding lover boy.
Together, in the naked city streets
The pestilence of death hovered,
As we moaned—ragged, rickety, forlorn.
The nation adorned me with a name, ‘Nirbhaya’,
‘The Fearless’, a martyrdom I never really wanted.
I slowly died, my music died out in the hospital room.
The tongue of the moon licked away
The residues of my rotted flesh.
My blood crystalized. My parents kissed me between
The dead veins of my forehead, and burnt my body,
Or whatever remained in the name of it.
Stripped off the flesh, skin and bones,
My arid spirit roams, a nightmare
In the wavy, tangled wind.
Thump, thump, thump—my unseen footsteps
Crush the dark night’s crevices
I am loved much where I belong now,
Sheltered, in the dense canopy of the sky.
Deep inside, I bleed every night,
I wander, in the dark womb of the cities
In the dead of the night, I whisk and burn,
Speed across buses, autos flaring with huge flashlights
I know—somewhere inside every city’s dark trenches,
A woman is breaking into million shards.
My molten essence strolls and stomps,
Whispers my story in wrinkled corners,
Every woman’s living nightmare.
Footnotes:The poem originated from unfathomable pain, remembering the shameful ‘Nirbhaya’ incident of gang rape in New Delhi, India, in December 2012.