Like garishly painted mouth

set in a sallow face

her name gazed fixedly

from a corpulent file

a repugnant mausoleum

on the book-strewn table;

a putrid, festering ulcer

gnawing into his paternal vanity.

The glazed certificates

proclamations of a rising star

in the corporate firmament.

The letters of commendations,

her pride and glory and gateway

to dreams uncensored…

Not one was apt to replace

the blood-drenched salwar

the ripped-off khameez.

Not one worthy to conceal

her shredded dignity

left ruthlessly bare

on her lifeless form

as she met her end

in the guise

of a trusted colleague

He added a final certificate

the one that closed her file…


25 responses »

  1. Shernaz says:

    Thanks Indrani, for your appreciative comment. Isn’t it sad that most of the time these criminals get away lightly, because as if the trauma of what they’ve gone through is less, even the onus of proving them guilty lies with the victims.

  2. Indrani Talukdar says:

    What can I say, Shernaz. It is so beautifully written about such a shocking crime. Rapists should be given the death penalty, nothing less.

  3. vimala ramu says:

    Sorry, Shernaz. Since my computer had some problem, my comment doesn’t seem to have registered. I loved your beautiful poem and was really moved.

    • Shernaz says:

      So kind of you to come back and write again Vimala. I appreciate your comment. I too am sorry I couldn’t acknowledge your and Vimala Madon’s comments before now.

  4. vimala madon says:

    Morbid and disturbing. Especially when such heinous acts are committed by the educated and rich whose degrees never taught them to be human beings,

  5. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    He…he…he. It was I think the goriness of it all which most probably reminded me of Machiavelli. Of course, not the writer! Yes, surely no point in shutting your eyes to the illnesses of the system in which you are compelled to survive!

  6. Beyniaz says:

    Disturbing images revealed by your beautiful words, Shernaz. I was both horrified and touched.

    • Shernaz says:

      John Donne said “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Similarly all such gory incidents violate us at some level of consciousness Beyniaz and that is why they disturb us so much. Life can be horrifyingly cruel for many. Let us just send up a prayer for all our sisters and daughters to be safe. It is the least we can do.

  7. Safiyyah says:

    Its amazing how you make the harshest of realities into the most striking of poems, the transformation is phenomenal. I agree with all the comments above.
    I am a fan of crime tv programmes like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), Criminal Minds, Law and Order – Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit (specialising in sex related crimes)…and many more. Thing is, for these programmes to come into the imaginations of those involved in the writing and making of the programmes, and the solving of it, similar incidents have to have happened in real life, at least to some extent, as I’m sure if not all some of you here will agree that tv programmes are more dramatised, and sensationalised. And yes some countries are certainly ahead in nailing the culprits. The purpose for sharing this interest of mine here is to highlight the fact that these things are getting more and more common and innovative by the perpetrators, and for the working or single woman out there, awareness is as important as the need for skills in self defence.
    Thanks, for the graphic picture of this incident, in the most eloquent of expressions. Regards

    • Shernaz says:

      Saffiyah, my picturisation is as graphic as I read about it in real life. But while cases against women and girls are highlighted, unfortunately the plight of young boys who are sexually abused and exploited goes unnoticed. And I am not talking about homeless boys who spend nights on railway platforms or on the streets. Even those from good homes have sometimes been subjected to this cruelty and by people close to them. As grown up men they still carry the scars – emotionally and psychologically. The injustice of it all, the frustration at one’s own helplessness is perhaps what comes out as ruthless words in my writing. Thanks for the response.

  8. Dear Shernaz, your poem left me speechless and misty eyed at the same time. It left me angry and hurt, frustrated and helpless at the same time.

    I really appreciate JSB’s detailed comment.

    Thanks Shernaz for this lovely creative piece of cruel reality.

    • Shernaz says:

      Shail, you have described the way I feel when I read about these gory incidents in the newspapers. Thanks for reading, appreciating and encouraging.

  9. J S Broca says:

    Another masterpiece from you dear Shernaz.In a recent issue of a business magazine,that I subscribe too,I had read about what is called “Corporate Apartheid” which talked about the sexual harassment of women at the work-place.Like I have been moved by your shocking account of the victim of lust described in your poem,I was equally moved by what I read in the magazine mentioned above.I had written a strongly worded opinion to the editor on the subject.Here is some relevant portion of the letter I wrote :
    “This is in response to your cover story on sexual harassment, titled “Gender Gap” in BT of Oct 17th 2010.Right from your Editorial,through your piece ‘Corporate Apartheid’ to the series of articles culminating with ‘Take Cover’, it was responsible journalism at its best.Kudos!
    Closing our eyes and denying its existence is our common ostrich like approach and behaviour which has been referred to countless times in conveying people in work places to “bury their heads in the sand” and ignore such problems as if they simply do not exist.
    Unfortunately,sexual harassment in our country is often loosely labelled as “eve teasing” and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as sexually coloured remarks; physical contact and advances; showing pornography; a demand or request for sexual favours; any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature.The critical factor here, is its unwelcomeness part.
    Basically,sexual harassment infringes the fundamental rights of a woman to gender equality and right to life and living with dignity.
    Although there is no specific comprehensive law against sexual harassment at workplace in India,so far,but several provisions in legislations are there to protect women against sexual harassment at workplace under various sections of IPC which deal with subjects like assault or criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage and insult her modesty.
    However,it is a classic example of our common proverb :”billi key galley mein ghanti kaun baandhey?” (who will tie the bell on the cat’s neck?)
    I feel a comparative study needs to be done with similar laws existing in other countries so that our legal eagles can come out with a really comprehensive act. For example,” The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment At workplace” (AASHA) in Pakistan, was reportedly working on this subject but the final outcome is still not known.
    Even ” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission”(EEOC) had started work way back in 1980/1984 and onwards,but whether it has served a useful purpose in curbing this menace or not,is not known.
    Simply going on defining and defining,what exactly is sexual harassment,is not the need of the hour,but taking deterrent action -promptly and swiftly, against the males of the species who are basically responsible for creating a hostile work environment for the female,needs the top most priority.”
    Shernaz,you will be glad to note that just before Diwali,our Parliament has passed a comprehensive act at last,on the subject of sexual harassment of women at work place.I feel it was a long awaited Diwali Gift for all such working women ! Try reading about it in the media and you will know what it is all about !
    Thanks once again,and keep highlighting such evil deeds of our society !!

    • Shernaz says:

      A very detailed response as Shail has put it. Couldn’t expect less from you Jitoo, thank you ever so much. Many acts and laws are in place to protect the weaker sections of society…how many are implemented? That is the crux of the matter. We have societies that take the law into their own hands, so what we need perhaps to change the mindsets of such people by educating them. A mega-Herculean task!

  10. Sneha says:

    Painfully stark, holding in its very core. Lovely string of implied comparisons!

  11. Painfully nice, and a beautifully ruthless piece of poetry!

  12. Sonal Shree says:

    Shernaz, Shernaz and Shernaz. What do I say more! Right from the title of the poem till the last line, its a gripping tale. I second Geetashree’s opinion.

    • Shernaz says:

      Sonal, I accept your comment with thanks. Every second day one reads about these incidents in the papers. How long can we turn a blind eye and pretend all is fine for women in this ’emancipated’ age?

  13. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    A verse of a very, very different style, Shernaz! A on-the-face punch ! A blunt, brutal, brazen statement of what is happening! A gory end. Don’t know why it reminded of Machiavelli!

    • Shernaz says:

      Yes Geetashree, this one is brutal and blunt as you say. Brazen too. It is possible that it has jarred a few aesthetic sensibilities but how long can we hide behind euphemisms? When you know why you were reminded of Machiavelli do let me know. Hope it is the poem and not I who reminds you of him 🙂

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