Not a Pretension to Godliness | Aditi Rao

By a Khilji well in Panchsheel Park

In my country, women are allowed
six or eight arms, as many as we need
on a given day. When you tell me
to hide mine, you tell me to forget

centuries of women stepping down
to this door (barely visible, covered
in eight meters, seven hundred years
of dust storms). No matter

how many snakes twirl here, guarding
their memory, it is still possible to look
through grill, grime, padlock, look down
the years before our histories tangled,

before this knot in your breath, this bruise
by my ear. My dear, even the rocks have tired
from the dream of a fuller monsoon, year after
so many years, and those women, searching

for deeper water, returning with full
hands, so many buckets. And you
tell me to hide mine?

Aditi Rao is the author of The Fingers Remember and the founder of Tasawwur, a collective of artists that empowers teenagers to create positive change in their lives and in the world. She lives in India.