With my not-so-lovely face covered
I could have been anybody in Hyderabad.
A grey stole not-so-long, not-so-short,
a perfect length like the perfect balance
between tradition and modernity in the historical city,
wound around the head and neck, and
tied at the back of the head,
hiding perfectly shampooed and conditioned hair
and an ordinary face that won’t attract a second glance.
The world could see only what I wished to reveal…
Only my eyes, with a mysterious depth,
deprived of an outline of kohl….
I could have been anyone……
A reverent Muslim girl concealing her face….
A Hindu or a Christian girl,
desperate not to get a tan….
A not-so-fair North-Indian or
A not-so-dark South-Indian…..
A native of the city, going back home, oblivious to its splendour
or a visitor marveling at the sight of historical ruins….
I could have been a beautiful girl
trying to escape the admiring glances of lustful men
or an ugly, rejected girl trying to escape
cruel remarks that would hurt…..
I could have been old, I could have been young…
I could hide everything….
My eccentricity, my rebellious thoughts,
My sarcastic smile that looked down
on the foolishness and narrow-mindedness of the world…
With my face perfectly concealed,
religion, caste, ethnicity, beauty or the lack of it…..
and other worldly labels didn’t matter.
Behind this veil of anonymity
I could comfortably cherish my uniqueness.
When anonymity can nourish individuality
wearing a ‘burkha’ won’t be a bad idea…