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It isn’t a pretty sight this afternoon, 

rains giving eczema all the way too much 

this year. 

The doorbell is turned off for the midday interlude 

I’m waiting for something to happen   

I’ve tried 

what women my age try. 

Picked up stones and battles, peed in two rupee 

public toilets, cleared the air 

of sexual scrutinies, 

partially pushed Father away a few miles, brought home 

bedsheets, frying pans, matinee tickets, air fresheners, 

waited for something to happen, 

waiting for something to happen.   

Ours has never been a happy home. 

Nor a house- the dead marigolds along the entrance 

no one bothered to root out, 

neighborly cats and dogs demented, 

burnt gossip from the last five years 

in my South Calcutta home, 

never been a happy home, and I’m waiting for something 

to happen right here, 

for quite some time now.   

Like last Saturday, earlier during that

godforsaken day, 

I was rubbing off bites and dust 

from my hairless back, 

while the bathroom bulb flickered. 

A short circuit 

blew the whole house out— 

the poor house next to the government elementary school, 

that has never been a happy house.

It had been dark and humid for three days,

before the man who stared at my breasts through 

the whole time it took him to mend the wires,

mended the wires. 

My mother stood in the hallway. 

Terrified and indifferent at the same time.   

I feel I know honesty because I’ve 

seen so much 

of her and around 

the often so restrained South Calcutta home,

where I have always waited for something to happen. 

And when it did, 

I was in my mid-twenties 

horrified and indifferent, I stood in the hallway,

honest, because I’ve seen so much, 

artificial sandalwood air freshener 

giving a modest headache.

Somreeta Paul is a poet, translator, and photographer from India currently based in California, where she is pursuing her research in Philosophy. Her poems in English and Bengali have been previously published in Phi Magazine, Proma R Parosh, Anti-Clockwise Magazine, and other journals.

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