The Epitome of Love
'Handle with care' used to be written on the bottles into which my father poured his finest blends. My brewer father and simpleton mother handled me with utmost care.
As I grew up to be a young woman, all in my village knew that Neha was an epitome of love, tenderness, serenity- all blended into a choicest brew. I felt myself like a flower in full blossom quivering in caress of the spring breeze. I felt like opening my container of nectar to the bees and butterflies that would care to suck me lovingly. I felt like getting me freshened in the morning dewdrop. And I felt like bearing fruit with the pollens spread on me by the humming bees and fluttering butterflies.
In other words, it was the spring of my life. I would spring like a fawn, I would sing like a cuckoo, I would swim like a mermaid; I would soak me with all the ingredients of life in our quaint village of variegated green. There was music in the air, sparkle in the sky, poetry in the distant brook, and something was about to happen.
It happened, and how!
I went for a swim early in the morning as I used to do every day. The lake was not far off from our house. I swam to my heart's content and even caressed a few lotuses. As I came out of water, the eastern sky had just started taking its hue of early crimson. Hardly a person was to be seen around. I was walking home in wet cloth on a path lined by wild bushes emitting luxuriant fragrance of uncared flowers. I was humming an enchanting number.
"Hello!" called someone from behind. I turned back to see a young man - a stranger in my village. Without a shred of apprehension, I approached him. He looked decent, and I had never had a reason to fear as long as I was in my beautiful hamlet.
"How can I help you?" I asked, albeit with a touch of blush.
"Let me see," he smiled. Now I could see the lust and betrayal that reflected on his face. The face that hitherto looked like that of a human suddenly transformed into that of a wolf. A strange crippling feeling crept into my being- I suspect they call it Horror.
It was late to retreat. More men, of different ages, emerged from the bushes. They felt like predators on a hunting spree. The gagged me, lunged on me, tore my clothes off to pieces, and ripped off my body, my soul. Teardrops kept rolling my face. But my tear, my folded hands carried no meaning to them. They kept howling and bawling like those possessed by a stark ghost of cruelty.
I realised they were not the bees and the butterflies that caressed the sunflower lovingly. They were a spasm of kites or murder of crows molesting the flower off all its tenderness. They pierced my soft self with the bayonets of meaningless lust. Worst, they disdainfully dishonoured the same womb they were born from!
They fled after accomplishing the dastardly act of theirs. They are cowards- these people always are. I laid still for a while succumbed to the ultimate humiliation- a humiliation that sucks the last drop vital essence in you. I realised haplessly about how the world is not all about bees and butterflies; there are crows and kites as well. Even vultures are better. They at least feed on carcasses.
Finally, God was gracious; He released my soul off my painfully shattered body that was left to be grieved upon by my parents.
The figure you see in the picture is no more that of Neha. It is I all right; but here I remain the spirit of eternal woman that goes beyond the boundaries of nation, region, religion or race. I symbolise the women vandalised all over, all the time- those crumpled flowers! It is the spirit that no more counts upon the greenery, the swamp, the butterflies, the lovebirds of the world. It is a grim dusk for me at present with singed, perched and cracked ground around, flanked with flocking crows and kites. I have lost my hope on the mother earth.
Yet I know the state of despair will not last. I still remain the woman with a bosom full of love. I am the woman who can cuddle her children in trouble. I can ignore all my sufferings to protect my offspring. I will keep giving them the first feed, I will keep nursing them through their disease, and I will keep feeling sorry for them on their misgivings.
So here, I take my flight once more. I want to leave the gloom, the perched land behind. I want to leave the ugly creatures behind - in search of a greener pasture where the sun gives its kindly light, where trees sway in the soothing breeze, where the birds chirp merrily around, and where the flowers bloom without a fear of being tarnished.
Here I come - the cuddly daughter, the lovely wife, the affectionate sister, the caring mother -the woman. I shall once again hold you in my womb, the same womb you dared to tarnish once.
I am the woman - the epitome of love.