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a pad is a personal hygiene product like latex gloves by Ranjani Murali

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

How, I imagine, this memo could have read:

space out your thighs; you will be

searched. one of you almost tried to cram

your deodorant stick down the sink but we

fished it out. your uncle from the gulf

who liked to stroke your back bought

you the stiff toilet paper you tried to sneak

into the ladies’ room. a ream of paper wedged

under my foot, that day unironed itself

into creases on every face i supervised. not

one told me there was shit plastered on

my soles, hardened, full of the fecund misgivings

the latex on the conveyors evades. but

this bleeding, it is unpardonable: an effluent

from your peasant-veins, your mocking,

warm hips, those pop songs you like to

play on your cheap korean mp3 players.

when i see your tears trickle down,

i will smear some toilet paper on them

and nod. the management prefers you

rinse and take it home: your modesty,

i mean. there are only so many doors

you can fumble shut before i

wipe away your smirk, your taut

petticoat-strings, your my… please

didn’t flush down madam please madam

Instead I saw you from the corner, writing

quality control fail sample # 56.

reason: uneven at palms; bad material. & no, i don’t

anticipate women holding placards

outside wearing orange lipstick, saying fucking

bourgeoisie, & interns, in a room somewhere,

running ads for fair-forever running

up to a supervisor, like me, exclaiming,

let’s send the CEO pads as a statement, no,

till his mailbox overflows, while you fish out

your underwear from a pile and i peel

off the gloves i almost threw

earlier into a pile of rejects.

I hum now (the song

on my headphones:) the ebb

of our shared shames, our bodies

in their familiar state, thrumming—

conveyors spinning toward, into, the promise of another, no prism

of shared phlebotomies, no cisterns cracked and patched, searched without question,

without the trace of wound.

Based on a news article on women in a mall in Kerala being strip-searched after a pad was found in the toilet.

Read more of Ranjani Murali's work on her website.


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