Two women are walking, poem and a fairy tale by Suniti Namjoshi
Suniti Namjoshi was born in Mumbai, India and at present lives in the southwest of England. Her books include Feminist Fables, Building Babel, Saint Suniti and the Dragon, Goja, Sycorax, The Fabulous Feminist and Suki. Aesop the Fox is due in April 2018. Her books are published by Spinifex Press and Zubaan. Her children’s books include the Aditi series, The Boy and Dragon Stories and Blue and Other Stories are published by Tulika Books and Spinifex Press. For Blue Nilima Sheikh did the art work. Suniti’s papers are in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.
An honest to goodness fairy tale
Once upon a time there was a charming woman who liked being flattered. (Who doesn’t?) She was also very rich so she thought she might as well get herself the sort of partner she would really like. She advertised: “Half my riches and my hand in marriage to the suitor who pays me the best compliment. Caste, class, colour, creed or anything like that not an impediment.”
Suitors came from far and near in all sorts of colours, sizes and shapes. And some were clever and some were downright stupid. “The greatest compliment I can offer you is to make you my wife,” one of them said. She suppressed a giggle and turned to the next one. This one threatened to commit suicide. She said that wasn’t a good idea, but if he insisted on it, would he do it elsewhere please? And a third offered to weigh her in gold, which implied that the plumper she was the more worthwhile – it didn’t feel right. Then there were the poets with their sheaves of similes, some so outlandish that she was flabbergasted rather than pleased. For example, the magnitude of her attraction was compared to a black hole at the centre of a galaxy. She didn’t like it. And of course, there were hundreds of frogs who claimed they were princes in disguise.
She withdrew the ad, realised she’d been silly, and said that this time she would give half her wealth and her hand in marriage to whoever courted her with the greatest honesty. This also was an error, because now she was subjected to a battery of insults. The suitors thought that the ruder they were the more honest they were being. The least insulting were the ones who merely said they were marrying her for her money.
She began to wonder whether perhaps it might be best not to marry. Then one day an old friend said to her, “I’ve loved you for a long time.” She paused. “The only thing is,” she continued, “I’m no good at contests, so if you’re going to hold another one, tell me now, so that I can go away and break my heart in peace.”
And it was then that the charming and rich (and beautiful) woman suddenly realised that to be loved and to love was the best thing of all and so they got married.
Two women are walking
For Susan McEwen d 20 June 2015)
Two women are walking
towards the sea.
It’s the wrong time of year,
The sea is too cold.
Can they swim back?
One will swim back.
The other is dying,
and neither sea nor sky,
nor our horrified grieving
can make a difference.
© Suniti Namjoshi