He saw her in the evening, wrapped in dusk –
On the way home from work, at the bus stop
Poised like a gazelle in flight. Her eyes
Dark pools of promise, he thought, watching.
So he followed her, remembering
The way the hero of last week’s Bollywood film had followed the girl of his dreams.
He followed her home, that evening
He followed her the next
And the day after that.
He called her on the phone, and hung up when she answered. He waited
For her to fall for him – like they did in the films –
But she did not even look his way. So he waited for her, near the bus stop
And stepped out in her path
Suddenly. “Marry me,” he said. “I love you,” he said.
She looked at him with eyes full of fear. She turned to run – so he grabbed her by the arm –
She screamed, in fear, and tried to pull away.
He had a knife in his pocket, because his friends all had one too. He took it out, and stabbed and stabbed.
If he couldn’t have her, nobody could.
And she died
There in the street, frightened, bleeding.
He made the bottom strip in the TV news. He was famous.
People heard his name.
And people said
“That’s the way they are
Those people, you can’t expect any better of them.”
The newspapers called it an unrequited love story
And gave it ten lines on page six, next to an ad
For washing machines.
A politician said, “This is what happens
When we give girls too much freedom, and let them dress how they like. Women should be in the kitchen.”
Women’s groups condemned him
And got on TV, too.
And her mother sat in the dark and cried
Remembering the hopes that would never be.
But nobody thought of her at all.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2012