☛ Submission for October, 2024 issue (Vol. 5, No. 2) is going on. The last date for submission is 30 September, 2024.

THE TRIAL - Tapan Kumar Pradhan (India)



-       Tapan Kumar Pradhan (India)


Are you sure this is what happened –

Your statement, I mean

is it all true ?


          How many times shall one speak under oath? I was a child

I used to dream a lot – during daytime, even in classroom

Sometimes teacher asked something, and I answered

hurriedly, and all the girls burst out laughing, laughing...


But there is not a single injury. No tear

on the clothes. I mean, no signs

of any struggle at all


          Father took me once to the butcher’s shop

I saw the giant steel blade glisten, dripping red

With a single white flash the bird was silent

Not even a flutter in the wings, no croaking


Can you tell exactly how it happened, I mean

Exact position. How many were they

Exact places they touched


          it was a narrow alley where even noon was dark

a bearded shopkeeper used to sit me on his lap

and offer me candies (and a doll). Later the boys

snatched my doll away, and pulled out all its hairs

I cried, but they put two oranges inside my frock

And pressed till I was drenched. Holy cow, they teased


Our lady officer who did the finger tests

has this to say, I mean – how do I

I mean, you are habituated


          Yep, the campus does it to you, as you sleepwalk

into smoking den sat 2 am, before its lonely nights

devour you. If you kept away, you did not belong


The dress you were wearing that night

Is it, I mean -is this what

You normally wear?


          I was a rebel girl. That little pink double frilled frock

          My dead mom got stitched for my twelfth birthday

          I hated it. The moment I reached home I threw it

          On the floor. Tomboy – they called me. Tomboy


But you did know all of them, didn’t you

You knew ‘em for last six months

You visited that flat earlier


Yes! Yes! I did all that. Yes, I alone am guilty!

Hang me. Shoot me. Rip open my abdomen

Bloody finish the work you’ve already started


Long ago.