Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao
Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao

Chudail in love

Shortlisted in the Himal Short Story Competition 2019.

I remember dying. Most people don't want to be left with the gruesome details of how they met death, but I have little choice. You see, that's my first memory into this life. I can recall every moment of what happened to the other girl, the one I used to be. She was in a small, congested room, dark and cool, a recreation of her womb if you enjoy terrible metaphors. They'd just cut the baby out of her and there wasn't any crying. She was so focused on hearing that little voice that she'd failed to pick out the pertinent details. Such as: the troubled murmurs around her. The blood and shit streaming down her legs. The fact that the baby was a dud, of as much use to anyone as an amputated leg. Eventually all conversation around her slowed. Then, her father-in-law whispering into her ear: "Sleep, daughter".

Of the interval between my apparent death and my new life, I know nothing. I suppose I could tell you what my people usually do to women who end up like me. The ones who die during their time of the month or while delivering babies. The ones they call inauspicious women. First, you have your lips and eyes sewn shut with thorns, so that you can't accuse your in-laws of any more injustices. Then you are turned on to your back, because I suppose Yamraj has an anal fixation. Finally, heavy stones are placed all over your body, just in case your ghostly body levitates and starts telling everyone in the village just how bad your husband was in bed. A sentimental afterthought: sweet smelling mustard seeds sprinkled all around you, to distract your womanly body when you are on the prowl. Now, all these years later, I find myself bemused by these trivialities. You see, I was always destined to come back.

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian