The white sands burn under the fiery, scorching sun;
each grain, a Kohinoor in the making.
All around me are large, endless heaps of white…
The white, parched earth merging with the blue-white skies.
White, white, and white all around.
We are the Children of the White God, my mother used to say.
The eldest among the five, I spent my childhood in oblivion,
playing hide-and-seek with my siblings in this salt desert.
I was born into a family where I got food only once a day.
I have seen my mother wailing inconsolably, like a banshee,
holding a dead baby in her arms.
I have seen tears streaming down her rough cheeks,
as she held my father’s hands covered with lesions.
I have spent my entire youth in these white fields,
weaving salt from the heart of the earth.
I have known the pangs of hunger, the shackles of misery…
when the first rays of dawn kiss the azure skies,
I tell myself over and over-
There is nothing sweeter, seductive, and more powerful than salt.
Every year, during the monsoons,
this barren land surrenders to the mighty Arabian Sea.
They swing, swirl, and make love
until both get tired and fall asleep in each other’s arms…
and when they part,
they leave behind a universe in silvery white.
In the winter, when it’s time for harvest,
we pitch tents in these fields for eight months,
braving the fierce sun and the cold night winds,
to grow the whitest and the purest salt in the world.
Today, I am as old as the sun and the hills…
my face, shriveled like a rotten apple,
my eyes, deep and sunken like an ancient well,
my skin, coarse and covered with lesions,
and my hands, sharp and rugged like a knife…
my legs, covered with shimmering, white crystals,
are no longer legs; they are fragile sticks sinking deeper
and deeper into the heart of this white desert.
I don’t have much time left…
In a few years, my body will be at the mercy of corpse burners,
my children will perform my last rites, but what about these legs of mine…?
It seems they have a mind of their own,
for it is the blood of the White God that runs through their veins.
They are not the ones to give up easily –
they need to be coaxed, tamed, chided,
caned, tortured, butchered…
until they have no life left in them.
They will die a sad death,
buried with salt in a grave…
far, far away from my pyre.
Today, my mouth tastes salty and bitter than ever before…
I can hear my heart pounding on the doors of my body,
I can feel the cool drops of sweat meandering down my neck and thighs,
I can feel the stench of rotting flesh,
When I close my eyes, I can see my legs,
disfigured and mutilated, burning in the pyre;
the flames steadily engulfing them, as if with a caress.
My head is reeling under the sharp, spiky rays
I can’t breathe, I can’t…