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Apologia Pro Vita Mea

About Rajnish Mishra

Rajnish Mishra has a PhD in English literature and he has been active in the areas of teaching, research and writing for over a decade now. He is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India. He is the editor of PPP Ezine, a poetry ezine. He has published twenty papers in scholarly journals and as chapters in books and anthologies and has edited six anthologies. His poems have been published in various print and online journals and magazines.

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 No, I am not a demon,
although you, many of you, think so.
And why do you think so?
Do you even know me?
Still you do.
I know you are liberal,
modern, even radical,
and she, well-worded,
well-versed in uses;
subterfuges of language
convinced you
with a sigh, or two.

Yet, I must tell you all,
to clear all doubts, yours,
and blemishes, on me.
I know that one may
hide truth from the world
but one cannot
hide the world from truth.
So truth comes searching you
and here comes my side of the story.
I know you’ll listen.
I know you are liberal,
modern, even radical,
and I, ill-worded,
ill-versed in uses;
subterfuges of language
will tell you in language
plain and sheer,
my side of the story.

We were both thirtyish
on the day of our wedding.
I was handsome, she loved me.
She was plain; I loved her.
I was liberal, progressive,
with a stable job.
What else could she ask for?
She knew. She was
happy. At least she made me
think so.

Feminist, she called herself,
and militant. She took pride
in overarching
the ism to its limits.
So, after a month or so,
of playing a good wife,
she started
yawning,
feminizing and militating.

Now let me tell you
one thing about me
Good Sirs,
and good Madams,
even in this age
bereft of values and ideals,
and norms and traditions,
and faith and belief
I do have all of them
and hold them close to my heart.
I believe in democracy, gender
equality and modernism.
Hell, I teach two of them to my classes!
I’m a feminist myself.
But I use my own mind too,
and too much, they tell me:
my open, militant, rational mind.
Whenever justice is denied,
a wrong is committed,
or a sin,
I seethe, and singe and burn
in rage. I am a man,
you know, a strong man –
an hour of cardio and weights
every day – I can pull and push
I’m combat-fit.

She, faux moderne, her time
out of joint,
quarrelled out of place,
and spoke out of point,
and nagged continually, intermittently, really,
for a stretch of weeks, days or hours
depending on her moods.
and her moods,
you can fill five volumes, or six,
of an encyclopaedia with them:
The Encyclopedia of Foul Mood.
I am no Joe Gargery my friends.
I carry no baggage.
I can speak, at least speak
against women,
and still feel human,
even when they are wives.
If you, the learned in the lore
smile as you read, thinking of the Duke
and his last Duchess, let me inform you,
I know him, her and you,
Are the cases similar?
Yes and No.
You decide, but first
listen to my side.
She has,
by now, written her ordeal
and made a best-seller
out of what she calls
and portrays as
her trauma.

It was after a spell of
drought, followed by
dry showers
of affection, or affectation,
that it happened.
I don’t let others see my anger,
although I seethe
and rage within.
Yet, my rage
got the better of me that day,
the day her charm worked.
After that call,
or was it that mail?
I don’t remember exactly
what happened that evening,
she told me
that she wanted her minute,
hour or year of fame.
She told me loudly,
that she felt restrained,
and living at my mercy.

I kept my cool,
and without speaking out,
told her that I was
above those measures
and beyond her tactical reach.
I even tried to reason,
with a woman,
and failed.
She kept festering, pestering
and I broke down.
I may have slapped her,
not more than once,
and lightly, tangentially,
I don’ t remember clearly,
but I’m sure of no open palm
ninety degree attack,
I know how to restrain myself.
Then I left the room,
she bolted it from within,
didn’t make any calls,
just wept through the night.
I was beside her,
just seven inches away,
separated by a wall.
No I did not weep.
I do not weep. I’m a man,
strong, and rational.

I apologized the next morning,
even made her an omelette
with coffee,
she said nothing.
I told her
how I loved her,
how all restrictions
were to protect her.
I explained, nicely, patiently,
why night is not a good time
to go out, and why
partying out late
is not good for health.
I had solid data in support,
examples of past
and present,
of far and near.
Yet, she said nothing.
Her words were drained
with her tears maybe.
She did not respond,
I left for work,
looking at her,
although I didn’t know it then,
for the last time.
In the evening,
I returned with two tickets
to a classic movie
and a resolve
to be more patient with her,
always,
no matter what.

I just can’t fathom even today.
Why did she
pull an Amy on me?

Gone Girl!

 

 

Footnotes

————————————————————————————————————————————– 

faux moderne: French for false/not genuine (ultra-)modern

Joe Gargery: A character from Dickens’s The Great Expecctations

The Duke and his last Duchess: An allusion to Robert Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’

Gone Girl: A 2014 film directed by David Fincher based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel with the same name. Amy is the heroine of the novel/film.

Apologia pro vita mea: Latin for ‘a defence for my life’

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