Enough: Raag Marwa

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ENOUGH is a Rumpus series devoted to creating a dedicated space for essays, poetry, fiction, comics, and artwork by women, trans, and nonbinary people that engage with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

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Raag Marwa

To wake to the sound of Marwa seeping through the bowl of a sarod
That rests over the limbs of a woman in the balcony—or not.
To follow the melody across rooms, beyond the descending sun,
Into the kitchen—or not. A call and response—or not.
To place a parat on the counter—or not. To empty three cups
Of atta and a glass of water into it—or not. To whisk them
Into a dough—or not. To gather the dough and push it against
The parat with the heels of the hand—or not. Joints rubbing
Against cotton sheets—or not. To scrape the dough from the sides
Of the parat and force it towards the middle—or not.
To press a palm into the dough and feel the thick mass
Fold over each finger, over the base and towards the wrist,
To accommodate an organ—or not. Walls buckle under pressure
—or not. To flatten the dough into a sheet spread from arc to arc:
A curtain pulled by the wind, clinging to the window frame,
Inviting a body to sink into the hollow between—or not.
To pour a spoon of water again, stretch the dough again, sink a fist
Into the middle, again—or not. The heart labours, the mind forgets,
The body concedes—or not. To sprinkle a handful of atta and knead again,
Knead till the dough stretches into a thin membrane, knead till you see
The burning sky through it—or not. To cover the dough with a damp cloth
—or not. To sit at the door, joints still sore from restless sleep, waiting
For thirty minutes to pass—or not. Marriage is a desert, an endless ochre
That consumes everything—or not. To return to the parat, lift the cloth,
And knead the dough again—or not. To thrust a finger into it to assess
Suppleness—or not. The discomfort of flesh intruding into flesh
Is familiar—or not. To cut the dough into twelve equal parts, roll them
Into small spheres, and dust atta over them—or not. To place them on the chakla
And shape them into circles—or not. The act of forcing something
Into submission—or not. To make the dough into a roti once the form
Has changed sufficiently—or not. To heat a tawa on the stove—or not.
To dust the roti with atta and place it on the tawa—or not. To wait for a side
To cook, then turn over to the other side—or not. Rage, when visceral,
Burns the body from within—or not. To take the roti off the tawa
Once marks start to appear because the roti must burn limitedly to be tasteful;
Excessive burning will make it bitter—or not. To spread ghee on the roti
And put it in the casserole—or not. There are occasional intervals of joy
That must make for years of torment—or not. To repeat this until the sun
Disappears into the west, a figure sits at the table, and Marwa becomes
The sound of a woman weeping—or not. To become my grandmother—or not?

 

 

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Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler

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ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women, trans, and nonbinary people that engages with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence. We believe that while this subject matter is especially timely now, it is also timeless. We want to make sure that this conversation doesn’t stop—not until our laws and societal norms reflect real change.

Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.

Visit the archives here.


Alolika Dutta is a poet based in Bombay, India. Her work has appeared in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, Berfrois, The Indian Quarterly, The Boston Globe, Indian Cultural Forum, Quarterly West, among others, and is forthcoming in The Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing, Muse India, and Race Today. Apart from writing, Alolika paints and photographs, too. Her paintings have been published in Aainanagar, and were displayed at the Hum Sab Sahmat: Reclaiming the Nation for its Citizens exhibition organised by SAHMAT in New Delhi. Her photographs hang on the walls of Seagull Books, Kolkata. More from this author →