India For Indians
by Arlene Zide

    America for Americans
    for Anglophones, Francophones

    Which, like the electricity, almost never work in India
    though -shishtachar- one mustn't say so.

    He brays,
    stung by a non-Indian
    fairly quivers
    ______So many rapes in L.A., New York, Chicago!
    ______So much unemployment in Manchester, and Birmingham
    ______And the weather in Toronto,_well!

    Still, she
    remembers jostling men
    in buses, along the open-drained__roads
    The brazen leers, the sometimes-joking blame of Eve
    for Adam's spinelessness, y-chromosome-
    lessness___________The lack
    of one safe place outside on any Delhi night.
    The nationality of the potential rapist
    doesn't move her.

    Before she left for India
    her colleagues,__male
    tsk, tsk regaled her
    with clippings, articles in Time
    on dowry deaths and sati
    and how absolutely terrible
    ______-- not here,_or us,__of course
    it had to be for women -- there.

    But she remembers,__still
    the joking
    hostility of bitter men
    still blaming Eve for Adam's spinelessness
    The lack
    of night street safe in her own city
    The nationality
    of the potential rapist
    doesn't move her.


    shishtachar - Hindi for decorum, courtesy; discipline


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