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by Gauri Sarang
(Bonn, Germany)

Urmila: I was just a girl when you married me to this vast empty palace. The night you first made love to me I was barely a teen. I hated everything about it. You were rough and inexperienced and carved me out like a turkey at a Christmas table. I lay mute and quiet. Scared to offend you or worse seem to be slipping on my wifely duty. I bore your rough shove and push with mute acceptance hoping for it to be over, hoping to walk away and wash myself of your dirty stains, hoping to die perhaps, than bear this ordeal.

Why did I accept it? I was bound by duty of course, to bear you a son. How else would the world absolve me of the grievous sin of being born a woman. My life, unlike yours, was not marked with high sounding morals, stronger faiths or the ease to trample over hearts in a march of filial yours was not even filial duty. I was only a woman you had married and it mattered little if I died a bit every day as you swore yourself to greater good.

It mattered not that my evenings were spent on the edge of a razor, contemplating a vein that would yield a bright, red flower. I am a woman now Laxman. You wander in some remote forest like an ascetic, following a larger calling of dharma, righteous indignation or greater spiritual truth, I know not what.

But tonight I sit again on the banks of the Sarayu. The Gillette razor in glistens like a diamond in the serene calm of a full moon night. I contemplate yet again, to offer this burning body with a bright red flower on its wrist to this vast, open and loving Sarayu...

Shurpankha: I am a wild child. Wild as wild can be. Straight out of T.C. Boyle's Drop City if you know what I mean. I wear my hair loose. Wear baggy, hippie pants. I smoke marijuana sometimes, but even without it I am high on life.

I saw this guy today.

Blokes in my commune told me his name is Laxman. He's been away from a woman for a good many years they said. Shurpi baby, maybe you can light his fire.

I was moved by the melancholy in his large, beagle eyes. My heart was a toffee of amber as I walked out to him. I held his hand tenderly, looked lovingly in his eyes. 'Its ok,' I whispered, 'I know how lonely, lonely is'.

He looked at me with stark bewilderment and looked away. He was too much of a chauvinist to admit it. And then, suddenly, without warning, he drew out his dagger and slashed my nose. My beautiful, aquiline nose with its diamond nose stud.

I fled in terror and horror.

Time and myth recreated me as the evil seductress. But Laxman, be a man once in your life and tell me in all honesty -- doesn't the dazzle from my diamond nose pin haunt you still? Don't you wake up shaking and full of remorse for all that you've lost to that crazy diamond light?


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