She remembers the window,
A bright envelope opened and gleamed
In the dark railway carriage.
Its rectangular frame cut back every irrelevant,
Decapitated all remainders.
Outside an intemperate sky painted everything blue
And looked her on the nose.
They were returning from the wedding banquet,
A feast of the second day.
She was returning home,
A hunted animal carried back on a pole,
A homecoming unlike all her others.
The groom slept on her shoulder
Like a wilting disciple of Christ in a Baroque painting,
A gaping mouth, a sweaty forehead,
Half-faint with an obscure consciousness.
They tried to make love the night before, in vain,
"Maybe you are sealed, he exclaimed,
Some women are, you know!"
"But I leak every month, how can I be so!"
She thought of her night as the ruffled clouds
Whirled past her, wandering Sufi Dervishes.
As the reflecting lakes gave up
Running alongside her window, diminishing
Themselves towards a vanishing point.
The groom's sleepy hand clasped
Her casket of jewellery,
A loose clutch of consciousness.
The rest in the compartment had gone to sleep,
After two clamouring banqueting merrymaking nights.
A film of dust had settled on them,
A cluster of statues newly chiselled.
On the empty sky beyond,
Electric wires pencilled some fleeting lines
Like the faltering hopes of her mind,
Looking for some certitude.
They too left her side soon.
She stared alone from the dark,
Or so she thought.
Her father kept awake,
A few seats after her,
Dazed with the heat, pale with worries,
Shagufta Sharmeen Tania's work has appeared in Wasafiri, Asia Literary Review, City Press and Speaking Volumes Anthology. This year, her short stoy, "What Men Live By" has been short listed for Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2022.