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Four archetypes keep dripping down damaged bloodlines in the shape of women.
City to city, like a mouth to a bottle or hand and oil to a scalp, they exist inseparable and bordering contagious.
Padma started using condoms after the girl from the community center functions who grew to
study vaginas and pregnancies told her about the failures of other contraceptives. At that time
they were both still laying on stained carpets in ill-fitting blouse pieces made from acrylic fiber.
Padma’s cultural suits stayed encased in their plastic sausage since. She left to see her lover she
was not Internet official with, with a suitcase full of dresses just barely longer than a shirt,
jammed as to not take a second from her breathlessness. She returned quiet, not a single word
about the trip or the plane or the hotel or him or what they did in the dresses besides “he’s gained
Veena walks that way because her legs are always sore. The children she wasn’t allowed to
cluster with are now the adults with white or white-collar spouses who say it’s because she looks
like those women back home. Not in presentation but curvature, same bulbousness welded in
waving places like the bronze dancers in Karnataka temples. Something about how in movies the
heroines look like western women dyed with henna and now she’s a dancer, dark no matter the
season from each metropolis to metropolis, like those bikini-clad cinema goons. Something
about how the men with those collars and value and valor would hold her hand in bed and not
Nayanthara, six months ago, would disable the home security with two forks, come back
perfumed with the neighbor’s daughter’s essence - household of boiled chili powder and white
radish. Five months later would come back hair disheveled and her grin fragranced like vinegar.
Three months suffered a broken nose and broken home, six long stitches on each side of her
flank with suitcases packed to heal from her procedure. One month ago I heard nothing can be
found about her. Her parents, weathered faces, have dusted through their living room, her old
bedroom now a prayer studio-home office combo, up the stairs, past the picture frames. There
are no vestiges of her smiles left in a clean home. When guests come for tea to gossip about who
wedded and who beat who, there are no answers about her name.
Rathna has been dead for almost two years now. She was working on a doctoral dissertation on
the history of obstetrics at a school between two rivers where they used to dump waste and
bodies. Maybe it was because she was on birth control, the pharmaceutical odor wafting from
orifices whenever she began to speak. Girls like that become targets, you see. In her obituary,
they felt it was important to include her parent’s passport locations and her defense date as
relevance. Three years ago, she birthed a coat hanger, and every voice around her nodded as she
said “Wouldn’t he be so beautiful? Like his grandmother. I’ll get to meet him one day soon, god
Vriddhi Vinay (she/they/he) is a poet and student of South Indian background from the Philadelphia area. Their research interests include gender justice, post-colonial studies, and archiving South Asian women’s colonial anthologized poetry. Their work is interested in the intersection of academia, erotica, and poetics. Their writing has appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, Penn Review, Kweli Journal, Apiary Magazine, Entropy Magazine, and The Inklette. They serve as poetry editor for Sonku Magazine, editorial intern for Cleaver Magazine, and artistic director for Babel Poetry Collective.