The Diary of a Married Female Clerk

Bairagi Kainla

(In a Different Voice)
Either she has to go to the office:

Through barrack, courtyard and market to Cart
Road she must go;
Always worried she is about the house and kitchen,
In the middle of the traffic
(Although the traffic police looks on)
A death-like vehicle attempts to overrun her.

Or she is all along the way
Chased by eyes of thousand bulls,
Beckoned by thousand vendors who would
Offer her credit;
A thousand strong arms
Approach to sympathize with her.

This is why with motherhood
That has not even had the chance to bloom
Tied in a knot to the hem of her saree
She runs away…
She runs away to the middle of the traffic.

And then
In the middle of the traffic
A death-like vehicle almost overruns her!

Her dignity wounded,
She carefully maintains the vanity that almost
In it are the pictures of her sick husband
And a house which she is having repaired.

Or in her office
Each and every word of the file au
She likes to shuffle and cook!

And that is why

But, every now and then,
Startled by the typewriter’s irksome noise
When she suddenly looks around,
Some with the pretext of a greeting
Some with that of exchanging files
The hungry eyes of other clerks
Lay her on a dish of courtesy and snatch at her
Consuming her lips, cheeks, flesh, and helplessness.

And then of course whatever may happen
She would simply like to die,
She would like to divorce dreams and desires,
Yes, she would simply like to die
Whatever may happen!

Or when she is returning from the office:

Not only from wealthy merchants but from
relatives too
She needs an escape;
Or else in the middle of the courtyard
or the market,
At the green grocer’s, at the draper’s,
Like a Marwadi tearing pieces of cloth
and selling…

The relatives too –
Tearing a few pieces of sympathy,
Sickness, the topic of an incapacitated husband,

A few touchy subjects,
Attempt to sell her!

And then in front of her thousand houses crumble,
And then in front of her thousand husbands die.

Feeling her forehead she runs… homeward
Knots try to form, breath is suffocated,
Yes, each wife always decorates her husband in
the parting of her hair
And then,
In the middle of the traffic
Her life bought on credit
And sustained on credit
Is almost run over by a death-like vehicle!

But she always has to go to the office;
And a death-like vehicle
Contemptuously tries to overrun her!

Translated by: Padma Devakota