Letter to an Unborn Mother: A Poem by Basudhara Roy Chatterjee

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We will be born together.
The day the umbilical cord
is cut and our union severed,
we will be the conventional
mother and child couple –
the Mary-Jesus version,
or the Yashodha-Krishna version
if you please –
whole, sanitized, eulogized
in songs, scriptures, advertisements
and those full-length fictionalized posters
in maternity and paediatric wards.

Till then you are an interrogatory presence.
Your protrusions like a distorted geography
raise pedantic eyebrows of moral-immoral,
legitimate-illegitimate, and your person
is, I know, continually scanned
for social markers of promiscuity and marital status.

There may be a while yet before
and if at all we meet.
For though ostensibly inseparable,
there will be needles, knives, syringes;
need for heirs and amniocentesis tests,
nutritions forbidden, refused, unafforded and denied;
doctors, grandmothers, midwives
charms, superstitions and amulets before I finally arrive.

And then your mark shall be inherited by me.
Caste, birth, religion, parentage shall need to be duly filled out in preordained proformas
that do not document but actually create the social being that I ought to be.

And your fears do not end here.
In fact each day of your mortal life mother,
You shall be haunted by the horrible dread
That I might simply cease to be.
Be mopped off the face of the earth like dust
by an anonymous virus or bacteria;
be deflowered by lecherous hands that diseasedly desecrate the dignity  of childhood;
fall a victim to raggings, drugs, mafia, political ideologies, insidious demagogues
or to my own insecurities that lead me to the brink of suicide.

Wherever you are mother,
wherever I go,
the world shall continue to follow close at our heels – resented, unwanted, undesired.
And what nation can safeguard us from this persecution, mother?
What colours and what anthem set us free?

Basudhara Roy (Ph.D.) is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur. Her areas of academic interest are diaspora theory, postmodern criticism and cultural studies. As a creative writer, she has been published in magazines such as Muse India, Rupkatha, The Volcano, The Challenge, I-mantra, Cerebration, Das Literarisch, Gnosis, Daath Voyage and on the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival Blog. Email: basudhara.roy@gmail.com

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