Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Don't Mess with the Kid

Her father died when she was three
Her mother married again.
She was eight when he came to live with them
She wondered how he’d be.

Would he be harsh? Would he be tough?
Would he be boring? Would he be wise?
Would he be kind? Would he be lively?
She found out soon enough.

I speak of many years ago
When people weren’t quite so clever,
Oh yes! They knew countless fables,
The name and duration of every season;
Remembered their multiplication tables,
Were able to sing, and dance and draw,
But had one teency-weency flaw-
No matter what, they would NEVER
Admit that they were wrong.
And they had their own little thoughts,
About what was right and what was not,
Which weren’t always founded
On reason.

Her new father was no exception,
In fact, I’m rather sorry to say,
He was worse than most.
Definitely not a champion of youth,
Not poor, or uncouth,
But a slave to convention
And silly superstition.

His little step-daughter was somewhat different-
A small, slim girl; with soft, dark hair.
With skin so fair,
Not just fair but pale,
Apart from her cheeks
Which were flushed with the tint of the rising sun.
Her black eyes which were large and dreamy,
Gave her face a tragic air,
But at times they flashed and sparkled,
Revealing a spirit proud and bold.
An intelligent girl, a sensitive girl,
And you know what else made her stand out?
She used her left hand to write, to reach out,
To eat with, to hold,
To feel, to mould.

Her step-father took this rather badly,
He declared it ‘wrong’ and ‘strange’.
But that wasn’t enough for him,
He took it upon himself to change
What from birth she was used to do.

He knew he couldn’t while his wife was around.
But unfortunately she died soon after he came.
People said that after her initial heart-break
She was never the same,
And that she pined away.
He now saw his opportunity, to take charge.

He told the girl, “You’re not to do it,
It’s filthy and abnormal, and from now on
You’ll use your right hand like others-
When you’re reading, when you dine,
When you’re writing in your blasted diary…
Mind you, I’ll keep you in sight.”
She was stung, and angrily she burst out
“But can’t you see, for me left is right.
Using my left hand is what I’ve always done!
It’s who I am, it suits me fine.”
He growled, “You preposterous brat
We’ll just have to see about that.”

It started with a rap on her knuckles
When he saw her using her left hand.

It grew into a mania: his inflated ego
Coupled with his limited brain
Not only protested against what she was doing
But that she was doing it in defiance.

He started using a steel scale,
Once he drew blood-
She winced and let out a little gasp of pain,
And when she looked into his loathsome face,
(Handsome in a way, but bloated with age)
She saw something that made her seethe with rage-
A fleeting look of triumph;
And a smug smile.
And then she made her choice-
She wouldn’t raise her voice,
She wouldn’t lift a finger;
But from her rebellious purpose,
She wouldn't for a second, stir.

A few months passed. She found a pleasure
In seeing the spark of anger, coupled with surprise
That sprung up in her father’s beady eyes
When she didn’t flinch under his torture.

One day-when she sat in bed, writing
Her step-father pinioned her by her shoulders,
She didn’t resist, she knew it would be of no use.
He tied her left arm with a rope, firmly behind her back.
Her face was expressionless. But his had a look of glory.
“Defiant as she may be, what can she do now?
Starve to death? The scrawny kid won’t dare.
She’ll get a scare.
Once and for all, she’ll give up her little fight.
A stubborn streak is no weapon against a knot tied tight.”
And he sniggered.

He left the room. She didn’t move.
She didn’t go for dinner that night.
The hours passed. It was dark. She didn’t even turn off the light.

Her mother’s picture was bathed in the golden light
Of the lamp on the desk by her bed.
It seemed as if there was a halo
Shining around her mother’s head.
Slowly, uncontrollably, a single tear trickled down the girl's cheek
And dropped onto the rope that bound her left hand.
And magically... that rope so tightly bound…
Unwound!
The girl watched as though in a trance.
She thought at that time,
(She remembers smiling at herself for thinking so)
Her left hand radiated a faint, faint glow.

And it began to lead her. Lead her out of the room.
Yes her hand began to lead her through the stillness and the gloom.
She didn’t know how she knew,
But the feeling inside her grew,
That her left hand made her creep
To where her father father lay asleep.

She entered his bed-chamber.
It almost felt to her a dream.
And her left hand reached out,
Her left hand gripped his neck.
He opened his eyes, they seemed to scream
But his throat was dry, he couldn't shout.
His limbs were numb, he couldn't move,
As her fingers squeezed hard and tight.
She stood silently by the bed.
Watched him slide down to the floor, limp and dead.

Then-
Father” she said softly, without any fright,
I told you, that for me, left is right."

P.S-I'm left-handed but my parents have been absolute darlings about it.