#21 Revenge of the Sati Bride

by Anjali Enjeti

My mouth, taped shut, silences internal screams. The wires cinching my wrists to the back of the chair leave grooves of oozing blood. When the tip of my braid catches fire, the smoke billows around my head like a halo. An angry flame desecrates the turquoise and green flowers of my sari.

Suffocating on my own fear, I am like a sati widow from years ago—who burned alive on her dead husband’s funeral pyre. Except, my husband stands nearby, fully alive, gripping a kerosene jug to hasten my punishment for a shameful dowry, my family’s poverty.

He will tell police there was a kitchen fire—the oil from the sizzling skillet jumped to my sari, and within seconds, engulfed me in flames. My husband’s family will fake-mourn and dutifully release my ashes into the Ganges River. Later, they will arrange a more profitable marriage for my husband.

But fate intervenes. Just before incineration, I am soaked then tackled with a heavy quilt. My sister drags me outside.

Through the window, my husband writhes while trying to dislodge the paring knife from his chest. Agony overtakes him when the flame ignites his feet.

In the reflection of my sister’s eyes, I watch our one room home burn to the ground.

After, I pull the knife from his charred remains and salvage the gold coins and diamonds from my disappointing dowry.

I will tell police there was a kitchen fire, and that my dear husband died while trying to rescue me.

29 comments:

Nicki Salcedo said...

Frightening and wonderful.

Anonymous said...

This is Kola Boof.

I was on the edge of my seat reading this. Enjoyed it a lot!!!

Good luck Anjali.

Kola Boof

Anjali said...

Thanks Nicki! I really appreciate it!

Anjali said...

Kola, a compliment from you means so much to me. I'm so glad you liked it!

Emily said...

Wow. Incredibly powerful.

Anjali said...

Thanks, Emily!

Lee Wright said...

Great story! Beautiful visuals, great ending. You really should write more flash fiction.

Aerin said...

I have a sister like that. I loved this piece.

amessoffeathers said...

Really gritty and vivid, and so much emotion packed in!

Anjali said...

Thanks, Lee!

Anjali said...

Thanks so much, Aerin!

Anjali said...

Thank you, amessoffeathers! Love your screen name.

Janna Qualman said...

Excellent!

Anjali said...

Thank you, Janna!

Anonymous said...

Incredibly gripping from the first word through the end.
E

Anjali said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Anon.

Bruce Roush said...

Terrific story about an horrific cultural tradition. Well written!

Anjali said...

Thanks for your comment, Bruce!

Sam Knight said...

Nearly a whole novel in bite size. Nicely done.

Anjali said...

Thanks, Sam!

Jade said...

Thank goodness for devoted kindred! Excellent concluding sentence.

Anjali said...

Thanks, Jade. Thank goodness for sisters.

Soniah Kamal said...

very nice, Anjali!!!! Very effective use of the image.

Daisy said...

This piece manages to leave me wanting more with out feeling incomplete. Well done.

Anjali said...

Thank you, Soniah and Daisy!

Christy Luis said...

Very well-written! *shiver*

Anjali said...

Thank you, Christy.

Gita Smith said...

If you had made me wait a moment longer for her rescue I would have been standing in front of my screen, not sitting. Excellent!

Anjali said...

Thank you, Gita!