3 Hysteria HYSTERIA Anna Sujatha Mathai (First published in Life - on my Side of the Street. Sahitya Akademi. 2005.) Yes, for centuries we've been mute. Not that we're dumb, or our tongues had been cut out. Not quite. We could prattle alright: about recipes, about dust, about our neighbour's daughter, about our clothes, secrets about how to stay beautiful, how to stay young. We knew nursery rhymes which we lisped to our children, but never the dark interiors of those stories, those lay shrouded in sleep like the Sleeping Beauty. Yes, we were sleeping beauties, baby dolls, we slept while our children were branded with seals of ownership, our names taken from us, we smiled while others filled in forms for us, others made laws which ruled our lives. Yes. We were dumb, except when we cried, which was often; when we were ravished as young girls, by strange, brutal men, when we bore children, and delivered them in the agony of childbirth. When our husbands our fathers, our brothers and our sons, and even our lovers, if we dared have them, struck us and betrayed us, and sold us and wounded us. We dreamed of gentle hands and loving words,

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