In badalo ke aansoo
aasmaan ki udaasi
Suraj ka undekha chehra
Khuda bhi gawah he
Is baat ki
Ki tumhare bina jeena
Mushkil hi nahi
This gloomy weather makes it all the more relevant
It all began to happen very subtly one morning as Anna was getting ready for work. She was going about her make up routine and just going to put on her nylon stocking when she realised there was something wrong with her toes. She wiggled them about and realised what it was. Her left pinky toe appeared to have vanished. She couldn’t see it anymore, but when she reached down to feel it, it was there, nail and all. She didn’t give it much thought and proceeded to pull on her stocking and shoes. Of what consequence were vanishing pinky toes when there were more pressing work matters to attend to?
At the office, Anna silently made her way to her desk. Unlike the others, she wouldn’t start her day with a visit to the coffee machine and guffaw about paltry events. She preferred to get a head start on her emails and get a bit of work done well ahead of her 11am daily huddle. One by one people shuffled in to the office. She was almost always the first one in. She prided herself on her work ethic. Not that she thought herself to be a workaholic but she certainly devoted a lot of her waking time — and much of her dream time too — to solving her work problems. She was halfway through her tenth email and tried to follow one of the lines her vague client had written in his usual rambling way, when she noticed her index finger, which she was trailing across the screen, appeared to be missing a nail. She touched the spot where her nail ought to be but instead of feeling soft flesh, she felt a hard nail. This made no sense at all, thought Anna, mildly disconcerted. First disappearing pinky toes and now vanishing finger nails! She made a mental note to research these symptoms as soon as she got home and fix an appointment with a dermatologist. She never used work time for anything personal. And frowned upon others who did.
It was lunch time soon enough and Anna made her way to the rooftop cafeteria. She always lunched alone. It was hard to make friends when you preferred to devote time to work instead and in any case, it was not as though she were much of a people person to begin with. She moved past tables of her chatting colleagues and went to wash her hands at the washbasin. She looked up at the mirror and was shocked to see she had no hair. She immediately placed her hands on her head and felt her usual coarse bushy hair tied in a tight ponytail as always. She turned her head this way and that and still couldn’t see a strand in the mirror. She plucked a hair out and held it close to her eye. Still nothing. But she could feel it. Curiouser and curiouser. She slowly walked to an empty table with her lunch, hoping noone would notice. She needn’t have bothered; people hardly paid any attention to her on most days and today wasn’t any exception. Still, she untied the scarf from around her neck and tied it around her head just in case.
Work soon made Anna forget all about her disappearing appendages. At one point, as she was mulling a report she was preparing, she absent mindedly noticed that her right arm wasn’t insight, and her mouse appeared to be moving of her own accord, but she ignored it as soon as she figured out the formula she had to use for the data.
Anna was used to staying back in the office until 6 or later, way past everyone else had left. It was 7pm when she finally raised her tired eyes from the screen and decided to head home. She passed the sleepy night security guard and said a quiet good night to him as she made her way to the lift. She had her back to him as she looked for the elevator and so she couldn’t see him jumping out of the chair in fright as he looked around to see who’d greeted him. Anna stepped into the lift and reminded herself to recheck that file her client had sent first thing tomorrow. It seemed to her of no consequence, as she walked past a glass fronted coffee shop, that she now had no reflection at all. Tomorrow was another long day, and she had emails to respond to. Disappearances be damned.
Maybe I was just born in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If today I were a gay man in America, I would have had the ability to go to the state that protected my right to marry my partner and have children with him. But I live in India where my aging parents keep looking out for a marriage proposal for me which I have kept turning down much to their disappointment...
If today I were the rich kid of a billionaire dad, I could have devoted my life to philanthropy or pursuing a passion like film making just for the heck of it regardless of its profitability. But here I am a middle class child earning my daily corporate wage and depending on that monthly salary to keep my family going while I watch youtube videos to stave off my appetite for the director's chair.
If today I belonged to the majority religion in my country I could be proud and happy that the new fascist government is paying special attention to our existence and sparing no effort to promote our interests over those of other communities. But here I am a religious minority, doomed to be subject to persecution and harassment on different levels everyday, forced to accept my fate and questioned daily as to my nationalism and my true country of origin.
If today I were a man, I would have to ability to travel anywhere I wanted and walk about at odd hours of night fearing only robbers or thieves. I would be able to speak and have my voice heard. I would be able to demand and have my demands met. I would have been able to stay childless well into my 50s because I could father a child any time. But here I am a woman, who is susceptible to rape, who has to fight to have her voice heard, who is by default expected to heed to her ticking biological clock and fulfill the need for procreation at a suitable age.