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The Art of Drowning by Satwik Mishra

Art by Albert Zavaro

I learnt the art of drowning,

at the tender age of ten,

when I was neck deep in the toilet bowl,

gasping and pleading, to be let free,

and my vocabulary was limited to a series of apologies that my mother had taught.

In the bedtime stories that my mother whispered to me, at the wee hours of the night , the monsters had

always lost, in the end; whilst I was drowning, I had figured that my mother was a liar.

When I was eighteen, I was packaged into a box, labelled, and asked to behave.

I was taught that love came with man-made restrictions, a sheet of rules and regulations,

strategies, and a mouthful of lies.

The astrologer, my neighbor, who sat on his patriarchal throne,

cursing every woman who lifted her veil,

and wore lipstick on her scarred lips,

bellowed about how his ever-loving God would descend from heaven and strangle them to death.

So when I declared that I loved a man, four priests clad in bright orange drowned me a holy number of times in the ganges, to cleanse me of my sins.

I remember my lips gracefully touching the cold meat of a deceased.

At forty, after I'd dropped my son to school;

where he studied moral science in his first period,

with teachers who shoved morality down his tiny throat, and he always skipped the chocolate cakes and sandwiches that I packed for his breakfast( or were they snatched), I filled the tub with water and rested there in perfect silence,

until it had overflowed,

and my body burdened with guilt,

sank lower, and reached the bottom,

where it stayed still, for a long time,

and floated up, without resistance,

for, it had learnt the art of drowning.

Satwik's work can be found here.


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