Stitches from the Past by Shamika Shabnam

Traces of blood
tell stories,
create memories.
Engraved in the skin,
an unhealed wound;
one that bleeds when I scratch:

an open wound;

a painful testament;
a past stitched into my skin.

She protects her,
my grandmother.
She shelters my mother within the folds of her saree,

sells her bangles to buy food,
strips off her own bindi:
a naked forehead.
Better than a naked body for the soldiers to prey on.

Pray, prey, strip, let the blood flow
from her leaky body.
Make a Muslim
out of the Hindu Bengali.

She shelters my mother within the folds of her saree,

a nine yard cloth,
clasping her skin.
She is no Draupadi

with endless drapes;
hers is a saree splattered in her own blood.

A sticky remnant

when they ripped her roots

and made her bleed.

The umbilical cord
draped around my neck,
I, a body within another body.

They cut her open:

my mother,
saved me,
held me,
cradled me,
caressed me,
kissed me.

My mother,
I find my roots in her.
I carry her wound,
the one I scratch
every night
to make the wound bleed.

Traces of blood tell me the story

of 1971,
my mother,

hidden in an almirah,

behind a fold of saree,

she hears her ma…




She scratches her wrist

with each scream,

rewriting her flesh.
A past stitched into my skin;

an unhealed wound
that cannot be unwritten

from my body.