Sunday 27 June 2021

The Family Tree by Sumitra Shankar



Before she was a grandmother, she was the fourth daughter, another useless female, of an impoverished cook. Her rich uncle had use for her, in the kitchen and the bedroom, until she started bleeding.  Then she was sent packing home, monsoon rains or not, to her village.  Chchi, dirty girl.


She hadn’t even wanted kids, but it happened anyway. They felt like parasites, sucking what little she had from her. Her life had been one of scraps of attention, maybe an odd pat on the head. Her mother said you have food and a roof over your head what more do you want?


The girl practices ballet, knowing her pliés are terrible. It is her thighs, they get in the way and spoil the clean profile. Her mother suggests cutting out rice. Candy and chocolate were abandoned a long time ago. She squatted and rose, squatted and rose, watching herself in the mirror.  Chchi, dirty girl.

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