Bride of the Revolution

Samyak Shertok

You see her sitting alone on a rock, away from her new platoon. Her head draped in her mother’s wedding pachhaura stolen the night she became Those-Who-Walk-at-Night. Her arms wrapped around her rifle as if it were a beloved’s body. This is what you came for, armed with your Canon 35 mm: the face of the war razing these Himalayas for seven years now. You should have been here last Sunday, when her platoon was surprised. How she stared at her sisters’ throats bloom into black rhododendrons until her comrades tossed them into a shallow pit with shrouds of dirt. How could we possibly know what she is feeling now? All I can say is: how easily she could have been your sister, or mine, one of over five thousand of whom neither of us can recall a single name. But you’ve an assignment to do. So you kneel and aim your black lens at the sickle moon on her cheek. So you blur the forest behind her, where the crows have gone quiet. So you keep the muzzle out of the frame: there’s no telling how a bayonet can pierce the sky and the sky still send us the sweet rain. You say, Bahini, think of all the black rhododendrons you saw, yes, every single one of them, yes, beautiful, yes, yes, that’s it, and make your 35 mm gasp and gasp again looking for the perfect shot.


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