Wednesday 20 January 2021
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When the Girl Lit the Pyre

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Literature Poetry When the Girl Lit the Pyre

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he pyre was laid in the middle of the ground.
The mourners were silent; they made no sound.
Flowers were heaped in a great mound
Onto the body who, in white, was bound.

“Who will light the pyre?” the question was raised.
The daughter strode in just then; she didn’t look fazed.
By the stares that followed her through the night’s haze,
She held her head high with a steadfast gaze.

She was stopped by the priest, who very calmly said,
“Let the male member finish the rites instead.”
She stared at him mutely and slowly shook her head;
She left the man in shock as she walked ahead.

The mourners pushed her back with vigour newfound;
She didn’t fight back; she merely stood her ground.
“Please give me the torch!” was heard over the sound
Of the outraged cries belonging to the crowd.

Her brother stepped forward, torch clutched in hand.
“My sister, you must leave,” he sounded very sad.
She broke away from the crowd, stomping across the land
Only to march up and take the torch in hand.

She looked him in the eyes, even as she said,
“I don’t wish to fight you, not when he is dead.
But we’ve grown up sharing everything, yes, even our bed.
Why can’t we share this as well?” the sister firmly said.

“How can we break tradition?” he demanded angrily.
“Father must have spoilt you with his leniency.”
Even as he told them, she laughed bitterly
“It is blind faith over reason, after all, I see.”

The torch was still burning; she strode to the pyre.
She looked back at her brother; his eyes blazed with ire.
She held out her hand; his eyebrows shot up higher;
But he walked up to her and as one, they induced the fire.

The onlookers muttered angrily; how dare they do so!
Misdeeds were one thing; this was an all-time low!
But somehow, not one found the courage to say so
That “What you’re doing is wrong, don’t do it, just NO!”

The fire started slowly, then shot up with all its might;
It roared at the mourners; they began to cower in fright.
It sheltered the siblings; it was a strange sight
To see the fire shield them against the reigning night.

The fire cooled its anger, now crackling merrily;
The tongues of flame danced about almost innocently.
The siblings shared a smile before walking back proudly.
It had been quite a strange funeral, everyone agreed!

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Srinitya Duvvuri
Student of the 10th grade awaiting her results, training in Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam, blogger


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