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THE TURNING OVER

By INDIRA BALLAL

woman Last night, she saw a clay ring round the sun. She shut the window and looked at him through the silver moons in the frosted glass-pane. While he mined her through the night, sending his shaft sharp, deep into her womb, she didn't close her eyes but stared straight through the closed window at the darkening sun.

Night! No more the days when his scorn had seared her eyes , leaving them dry as paper, her eye-balls gyrating under a voodoo spell on a ball-room floor of scorching gravel.

Through the night, she watched the clay ring grow. Until, it was morning. In the faint, early morning light, she watched him through the bedroom window, walking with doddering steps towards the well. His spindly legs looked like half burnt match-sticks, brittle, promising to snap into two at the knees. But, they would never snap, she knew. Those scrawny arms encased in shrivelled, parched skin- they wouldn't snap, either, she knew. The vice-like grip of those rickety legs and arms could squeeze the life out of her. How many times she had died within those bent barricades?!

Her child whimpered in sleep. She turned and watched that flattened face. It looked like a face pressed hard against a sheet of glass, distorted and dead. From the corner of those slack lips, spittle dribbled on to the pillow, leaving a damp patch. Down's Syndrome, they said, in voices suited and booted in hollow sympathy...the fruit of the labours of senile lust--a life-long millstone round her young neck.

The raucous monotone of his voice chanting the early morning mantras droned in her ears. The rusted pulley screeched as he sent the bucket clattering down. The early morning silence was broken again as the bucket was drawn up. He splashed the entire bucket of water over his head. Yes, rituals; the morning mantras, the morning ablutions at the well--abomination to the polluted water from the tap. He sent the bucket clattering down again. As he looked down over the low concrete rim of the well, she suddenly walked out of the room, out through the back door and towards the well. His back was to her. She pulled both his legs off the ground and tipped him over.

She heard the splash as he joined the bucket in the well. She was surprised that he made no noise... Then, the obscenities rose from the dark cavern and reached the top. She saw the rope still tied to the cross-beam across the well, tug. Leaning across, she quickly untied the rope and sent it slithering down into the well.

When the bubbles stopped coming and he had risen thrice, she tied the clay sun round his neck and dropped him back into the well.

Back in the bedroom, she lay down. Ding dong bell....Pussy's in the well.... who put her in?....who pulled her out?.....let him lie there and rot.....

She turned over to sleep.