by Indrani Talukdar
(Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India)
The flames come licking at her face as she pushes it out of her mother-in-law’s grasp.
A scorched tuft singeing her nose and the sound of a slap singing in her ears.
Her grease-haired Nemesis propels her towards the kerosene bottle spilling its guilty contents as her husband watches complacent in the knowledge of the future
He has it all planned.
Another matrimonial ad- the grey-haired pimp
Another scared, nubile face to grace his mean dwellings
A new motorcycle and gold watch perhaps
The dream darts before his eyes as he watches her
A single flame a-flare, her arms outstretched, her purpose unfaltering
She clasps him tight
The pupils of his eyes dilate, two fluttering fronds caught in sudden lightening
He shoves her aside, an unwanted baggage
Yet she clings on as if her life depends on it
The red-orange fingers thaw his flesh
Then his bones.
His screams, primeval cries.
Relatives visit her in the burns’ ward
Where stench bursts like a polyp.
Her bandages come off easily; deciduous
The nurses laugh.
She does not ask about her husband
A corpse lying supine on its back