women

Perfect Brows 

They said her eyebrows were beautiful. They made her eyes look perfect. Neela had no choice but to sit before the mirror for an hour before her performance everyday. She stared at her reflection blankly while the other girls bordered her eyes with kohl, painted them with cheap eyeliner and shaped her eyebrows. Neela hated her work at the bar. While her mesmerising moves entertained the customers, her mind wandered away, free from the tangles of her red hair and folds of her shimmery dress. Her beautiful eyes went peeking into her childhood alleys, glancing at the mountains of her dreams, as she danced on. She never wanted to dance at the bar, where either they ogled at her thighs, or didn’t care. A sixteen year old Neela was left with no choice when her father lost his job and the responsibility of feeding seven mouths fell upon her.

She couldn’t complain when they tweezed and plucked her eyebrows to make it look perfect every day. Then covered her skin with cheap foundation to disguise  the slightly swollen skin under her perfect brows. She silently endured the pain. With every tug of the tweezer, they seemed to pluck off her freedom, her voice, her dreams, and her desires. They aimed for a perfect arch, sharp and beautifully carved- because it made her look sultry. Neela burned in agony and rage, her face rigid, as if set in stone.
Today was a special day for the manager. The bar was celebrating its one year anniversary. Neela was given a bright red costume, and was asked to dance longer.
However, when the senior girls came to dress her, they found the door shut from inside. Neela didn’t unlock the door even after repeated banging and yelling. They started to worry and was about to call the manager when the door flung open and Neela stepped out in a sparkling red dress, her face pale without makeup, and dangerously swollen skin, all red and slightly bleeding, at the place where her eyebrows were supposed to be. She had plucked every single hair from both her eyebrows. Her eyes looked at their shocked faces defiantly. Loud music played at the background along with raucous, drunk voices and the clanking of glass.

Via daily prompt:

Pluck

Pain Pastiche

Snow skin, soft voice,

A frame so petite,

Light steps and shy smiles,

I’m branded beautiful.

But a tug at my reverie, it snaps!

Shards of illusion scattered around,

I am just a black woman,

A thick, heavy, dark, Negro Woman.

So you hate me and beat me,

Starve and enslave me,

But take my loathed body,

Watch me numb my soul, and give in completely.

Purple bruises blend perfectly,

I am blasé to all pain,

My dreams smother in despair,

And wash away in tears which dry…

But I write about waterfalls,

Paint bright pink flamingos,

All in my mind’s canvas,

‘Cause black women with ink and paint,

Are only witches to be shamed and cursed.

And finally I die,

My body laid next to the spirit long buried,

From which I rise another time,

Ready to be tortured, ready to be told.

So here I am again, prettier this time,

With small feet and rosy cheeks,

I thank God-

Now I shall not be despised.

Well-

I am now a Japanese Wife,

Victim of a forced marriage,

A potential actress too-

But you don’t need to know that.

But you should remind me of my femininity every time,

Snatch away the sake and the smoke,

And yes, the life too-

Berate my apparition,

Every time you see her singing to trees,

Crushing dried leaves under her feet,

Plucking flowers on a solitary night.

[This poetry is an original creation, inspired from two masterpieces- “And The Soul Shall Dance” by Wakako Yamauchi and “In Search of My Mother’s Gardens” by Alice Walker. The theme of universality of women’s oppression has been recognised and is the essence of this poetry.]