Sweat running down her spine,
Burning away her life, standing in front of the stove,
Stomach cut into two, butchered for two,
I look in her eyes.
Her empty glaze,
Sold her life so that I could breathe,
Silently teaching me,
To never tear myself apart to
Negotiate someone else’s need.
Papa asks me why I speak so much –
I speak on behalf of my mother and me.
I am what she was never allowed –
I am not forced to contain anyone’s seeds in me,
I could be me, without feeling guilty –
The sacrifice was made by her
So that I can breathe.
Burning away her life, standing in front of the stove.
Ritika is a student of MA English at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi with research interests in women narratives and literature, gender and sexuality, and violence and torture narratives.