The thundering applause wasn’t in admiration of the anticipated excitement, but more as a warning due to an overextended wait.
The stage was set; curtains were drawn; The massive Ahilya Bai Holkar auditorium awaited honouring the ‘Woman achiever of the year.’ Tejaswini Phule had taken the Marathi stage by storm with her stupendous portrayal of Sita. The crowd behind the curtains was jealous of her talent and her luck to be married to the greatest motivational speaker of the current times, Shaurya Phule, who happened to be the compère for the evening as well.
But, where we’re they?
“Tejaswini! Get up you dirty slut
don’t hide from my cigarette butt.
Today you shall hold the trophy and stand tall
At night I shall make you whimper and crawl.
Aren’t you lucky to live in two worlds
One that’s bright, and the other has abuses hurled.
“Please don’t burn me Shaurya, I can’t take the pain any longer,” Tejaswini begged.
“Don’t play the victim card
You know for me, it’s so hard.
Other men see you with leering glances
So you shall accede to your husband’s advances.
I love you so much that I love to see you cry
Your success I abhor, now show me your thigh!”
“No!” The cry pierced the air. But no one heeded to her anguish. The motivational speaker had enough motivation to continue his plunder.
“Tejaswini! Tejaswini!” The crowd went berserk as she walked gracefully onto the stage, holding on to the trophy. The welts on her thighs screamed in revolt.
“I am your favourite Shaurya Phule, greetings of the day,
We adorn Ahilya Bai Holkar hall to honour the woman, who guide our way.
The woman of our country come from worlds; two
One is dark and dismal; the other is for the lucky few.”
His voice shattered her soul. Lucky? Was she? Did she not belong to the dark and dismal world too?
“Tejaswini is the chosen one
Destiny favoured her, luxuries she has won.
Her hard work has brought her here
She is the winner of “Woman of the Year!”
A woman whom I love both as an actress and my wife
Oh my beloved, your smile brightens my life.”
She couldn’t take it any longer. The fear of the oncoming night and torture overwhelmed her. Tejaswini was petrified of him and the atrocities he inflicted on her. The punishment she had to endure for hurting his ego by becoming successful. The trophy suddenly felt too heavy to hold, but could certainly be used for…..
Thud! The ‘brave’ Shaurya fell amidst pin drop silence. Tejaswini’s face gleamed in bright stage lights. The trophy had found its target and performed its task well. The blood spurting from his temple relieved Tejaswini. She staggered with pain towards the dais.
“No. Our worlds are not two
It’s just one, where we are born, just to be shredded too.
We are raped on the streets and in our homes too
Be it dark alleyways or five-star loo.
We are epitomised so that we can be disrobed
We are placed on a platform just to be pulled down and probed.
We feel lecherous hands groping us
Be it a local train or in the laps of illustrious
We are silenced in the name of honour
Be it in slums or palaces full of horror
Our world is one and perpetrator too
Who smiles before the world and kills us too.”
The crowd could hear Tejaswini’s sobs. Her now visible burns revealed by her draining make-up spoke of horrors untold. Each woman present in the audience was acquainted with the truth. Indeed, the woman lived in just one world, where she was made a goddess, only to be crucified.
The Ahilya Bai Holkar hall had a story to be told
Do you have the courage to let the truth unfold
It’s not about a different world but hypocritical you
Who projects to be a saint but, is a devil in situ.
Tejaswini died happy within the prison walls
But freed many out of bondages with her gall.
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