diumenge, 22 de gener de 2017

The other room

Putli retired to the other room for five days. It was a tiny windowless cubicle with an iron bedstead, an iron chair ans a small steel table. The room opened directly on the staircase landing opposite the kitchen.
Every Parsi household has its other room, specially reserved for women. Thither they are banished for the duration of their unholy state. Even the sun, moon and stars are defiled by her impure gaze, according to a supersition which has its source in man's fear of blood.
Putli quiete enjoyed her infrequent visits to the other room. It was the only chance she ever had to  tes. And since this seclusion was religiously enforced, she was able to enjoy her idleness without guilt.
Putli spent her time crochetting or tatting. She left the room only to use the bathroom. Then she would loudly proclaim her intention and call, 'I am coming. I wan to pass urine', or, as the case might be, 'I want to wash.'
In either case, if Jerbanoo or Freddy were at the prayer table the anxiously shouted, 'Wait!'
Hastily finishing their prayers they scurried out of the room and called back.
'All right, you can come now'.
Once the all-clear was sounded, Putli made a beeline for the bathroom, carefully shading her face with a shawl from a prayer table.
She was served meals in her cubicle. A tin plate and a spoon, reserved for the occasion, were handed over by a servant boy. She knew she couldn't help herself to pickles or preserves for they would spoil at her toch. Flowers, too, were known to wilt when touched by women in her condition.
The family was permitted to speak to her through closed doors, or, in an emergency, even directly.  Provided they bathed from head to foot and purified themselves afterwards.


The crow eaters, Bapsi Sidhwa.

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