Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Shyama Laxman


She goes around the office
Asking if we have any food
A banana or even a can of tuna
For her ten-year old
Who is on the cusp of a tantrum
Fuelled by hunger

She looks sleep deprived
Though her hair is sleek and shiny
For a two pm on a Wednesday
The bags under her eyes
Are a testament
To long nights and difficult decisions—
Whom to fire, who gets a pay rise—
Taken over a glass of red
While shouting instructions at the au pair
To cut her kid’s meat to the right size

Now eyes meet across the desk and roll
There is a slight shake of the head
Disapproving of her scrounging for food
She, the rich woman
whose handbag
Is more than someone’s monthly wage
She, the businesswoman
now mingling
With the commoners at work
Who are otherwise just numbers
On her profit and loss sheet
She, the boss woman
Who shouts and swears
Spies and manipulates
She, the woman and the mother
Who didn’t pack her kid’s lunch
Before leaving home

I come face to face
With a group of women in the park
Dressed in black burqas, with picnic hampers
And baby strollers in tow
I catch one of them looking at my naked legs
Peeking from underneath my skirt
A brief glance, that passes in the time
Needed to take two and half steps
In each other’s direction
I see the wistfulness in her eyes
Peeking from behind her niqab
A longing, not necessarily to show herself off
But to have the choice to not want to


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