Malathi did not board the morning bus to work today.
I looked at the woman seated beside me in Malathi’s usual place.
Clad in a saree, fresh flowers in her hair, ready to tackle the long hours of work in dust and heat.
She must be around her mid forties.
Does she have a family to provide for?
Else why has she joined the wagon of the working class at the wee hours?
Does she have a daughter ready to be married, or already so?
I tried to think what Malathi might be doing now.
Did she go to the burning ghat?
Did she fired the pyre?
What does the scripture asks of an widowed mother when her married daughter dies?
Malathi’s only child,
Wife to a school teacher,
Hung herself yesterday,
While carrying her first child in her womb.
Malathi’s daughter was told by a holy man,
Who came to beg for a handful of rice,
She will give birth to a daughter.
Took her unborn along,
To the dark cold morgue,
Before burning down to ashes.
For in this life,
She could not live up to the mark,
She could not give the family an heir,
She could become a mother, but an woman incomplete.