Monday, 24 November 2014

Item Girl By Richa Lakhera



She had been punished long enough...she thought. There were little patches of dirty mud where she stood. The birds huddled together outside the window and stared disapprovingly. Six-year-old Sunny had been standing there for more than three hours in the suffocating heat of the garden. Punishment for wetting her bed. The sun which had been soft and harmless and a welcome end to a horridly cold night had become menacing and cruel now. It beat down on her neck and made her head swim.
But she would not move she thought. Let her Papa find her like this, she swore stubbornly.
The sweat which had gathered at the nape of her neck now dribbled down her back into the crack of her bum and then down her thighs. Sunny always waited till it reached the thighs.She had a habit of rubbing her thighs with the warm liquid in between… it felt better, since she knew that Kala, her step-mother, would get more angry, a stolen sin in the long hours of punishment. In front of her, Kala knitted non-stop on her dark wood rocking chair. The needles attached to her stepmother’s hands punctured the air around her at breakneck speed. Her eyes fixed on the little girl she created strange patterns on silk fabrics, her needles going.
—ATTACK SPLICE CUTT ATTACKK SPIN CUTT SPLICE—
When the silk got over her stepmother attacked the lowly cottons, herfingers moving with dizzying certainty. Jabbing the thicker contours of the cottons into mouldable shapes with such ferocity as if she wanted to jab out the actual essence of the unyielding raw fabric…
—SPLICE SPLICE CUTTT CUTTT ATTACKK ATTACKK—
Sunny always got frightened, and sucked her thumb when Kala started knitting and stitching. But over time, Sunny fancied she understood the language of the needles. She imagined the dancing needles were trying to tell her something. She imagined they were her friends. They warned her of Kala’s state of mind. Fast snippy ones when angry. Soft snips when calm. Uneven ones when Kala was raging. That’s when she would want to run away.
The stones now glistened moist and black and slimy from piss. Sunny felt like a voyeur of her own plight, a pretend tourist. Watching from her cot, two-year-old Dannie stared with huge bright eyes. Sunny resisted the impulse to cup her eyes against the rising sun. The silence sat angrily, making the birds in the garden even more depressed. This was the longest she had been punished, she thought chewing her lips. And she wondered whether this time Kala would punish her all night. She imagined herself as a tree. She imagined her legs slowly becoming wooden, and her soft skin turning scaly and black and hard. Maybe she was turning into a wood fairy. She imagined her legs getting sucked down into the ground and growing roots. And when her punishments used to be over, she moved around like how she thought a wood fairy should move. But today, standing in her own piss and sweat for so long, Sunny did not feel like a wood fairy, or any fairy, anymore. More like a horrid witch. Maybe that’s why she smelled so much now. She let herself go again. The muddy spot had transformed into a bad toilet, a hot fetid swamp. She knew she would have to clean the mess herself, after her quota of punishment was over. But just making Kala angry would make up for everything. It gave her a thrill of delight.
‘You had worms, this big, when I first saw your. Ate mud off the floor, little horrr!’ Kala indicated with her arms.
‘Theees big worms inside your guts. You were being eaten alive from inside! And your intestines hung out of your arsehole like a pig’s tail,’ Kala would say blackly. Perhaps she could no longer ignore the fact thatthe filthy little girl in front of her with her matted hair, all tangled with burrs, eating mud off the floor in the day and wetting the floor in the nights, was transforming into an uncommon beauty. That Sunny was becoming a carbon copy of Tabu,the woman Kala hated the most in the world.  
 
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