I was helping my family in the field
Chopping the crops, checking the yield.
I hummed a tune that I had heard recently,
Imagining myself in stories shown on TV.
I could hear my brother and mother’s banter,
They were talking about what to make for dinner after.
Dusk began to set in , we were getting done for the day.
Ma called my name “Manisha, chal aa jaa jaldi”
I heard the shuffling in the field as they left.
I always stayed back to watch the sunset.
The tall bushy crops swaying against the pink sky
were my daily dose of hope, gave me respite.
I got up, untied the dupatta from my waist
Wiped my sweat and walked towards the sunset.
I heard the sound of some footsteps behind
I turned around to check who else could be there.
“Kaun hai”, I asked, peeking through the crops
Rabbits, or rodents or maybe someone lost?
Out of the blue appeared four men , big and tall
Their faces were covered, their voices were dull.
I recognized one of them, Sundeep wasn’t it?
I lowered my eyes. That’s what Dalit girls did.
They rushed towards me, threw me on the ground
For a second I did not comprehend, what had I done?
Many different hands started touching me all over,
My clothes were stripped, I lay naked and shivered.
I fought, I cried, “Kuch nahi bolenge, chhod do humein”
They took turns to enter me, again and again.
“Ek .. do.. teen.. char ..”, I counted in my head;
Conceded, closed my eyes and just waited for it to end.
“Tu dalit hai, beti. Akele bahar mat jaa”
“Bas picture hi toh dekhna hai, Bhai ke saath”
The arguments from our thatched hut, I could hear distinctly..
Muffled with chuckles, “Ek baar aur kar le, Saale”
Ma’s voice and her touch — would they be able to heal me?
Will I be able…