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  • Prose and Poetry

The Green Jewelry Box - Swetha Ramesh - Batch of 2019

My mother stores her anger,

In her green jewelry box,

The one that belonged to her mother.

Heirloom, used and passed along,

For thousands of years before,

Reminder of what had been done,

Of what we've got in store.


If I place my ear near the keyhole,

And listen closely enough,

I can hear them call my name,

I can feel them pull me by the scruff.


I realise that the box holds,

Different degrees of anger.

Some damaged beyond repair,

Some already on the mend,

Annoyance at the surface,

Anguish at it's deep end.


A lady with tired eyes

Guides my in,

She says "You have no

Business far within,

Float at the surface,

You haven't seen real pain,

The day you do,

You'll come in here again."


I float.


"Serve your own rice, it's just a

Hand-breadth away from you,

Look at me my dear, can't you

See that I'm eating too?"


I should be out by now,

But intrigued, enticed,

Just a little deeper,

I go just a little deeper.


A sob, a whimper, a guttural moan,

A burnt love letter, a broken phone,

Two crumpled applications,

Lying in a dustbin,

A torn blouse, it showed,

Way too much skin.


Just a little deeper,

I go just a little deeper.


As I keep going down below,

I gasp as I notice someone I know.

We hate her with a passion,

She's nosy and rich,

This toxic aunty whose made it her

Sole business in life to snitch


But she's not gloating in here,

She's distant and drawn,

A purple bruise on her cheek,

Her knowing sneer, gone.


Something pulls at my heart,

A moment passed by,

She's crying, she's crying,

I've never seen her cry.


"I know," she says,

"I've been cruel to you,

I've been burnt too much,

I've been loved too little,

So I'll keep being cruel to you,

Because it's only fair if you burn too."


I reach for her and her

String of broken hearts,

In her ear I whisper,

"This is how ragging starts."


I go deeper.


This place is

Too loud, too bitter, too dark,

Too late to turn back, I disembark,


I see what I see,

Constraint and coercion,

I sears what I see,

As they fall prey to perversion,


Groping, grating, gaslighting,

Marriage and marital pressure,

FGM in religious writing,

Seize their right to sexual pleasure.


They act like bearing through it all,

Means they're strong,

They act like bearing through it all,

Gives them pride,

As they're smiling to the world, Screaming inside.


Lock it up,

Pass it on,

Teach them how to

Lock it up and,

Pass it on,


They're all locked up,

They're withering away.


I exit.


I shall keep the box safe,

I won't pass it on.

This ends with me.

This ends with us.


Mom and Dad,

I want you to love me the same,

Regardless of what I choose to do,

Or who I choose to be with.


Mom and Dad,

I want you to hug me and tell me

That you're proud of me,

The way you did,

When I first learnt how to walk,


On my own.




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