‘Autumn’ in the broadest sense. It is how Indian widows had to undergo a ritual in olden days to give up all their ornaments, even the red dot on their forehead wear only white. Life stopped if their husbands passed away.
Leaves fall down, blown away in the autumnal blitz
Gold strewn paths crunch and crackle underfoot
A single vermillion leaf like a tear drop stands proud
Defiant, blood red, life courses through its veins.
The widow looks askance; the blood red leaf sends a shiver
The memory of her wedding day, a bride adorned with jewels
The red sindoor in the parting of her hair, beginning a new life
Of wedded love, happiness, babies, the start of a journey.
The sudden death of her spouse, the ritual of her widowhood
An awakening of the day as the sindoor on her forehead is wiped away
The bindi, the dot, the point at which creation begins, negated forever
The jangle of broken glass as bangles are crushed and ornaments discarded.
The white sari envelopes her shroud-like, a colourless palette
A life of the walking dead bereft of feelings, love or emotion.
Vermillion turned to ash, grey, unassuming as the leaden skies.
The blood red leaf is trodden under the walker’s brisk steps.