January 5 & 6: Radha Menon

January 5 & 6: The Petition

Radha Menon


The Petition

Wearing a neatly folded sari, a middle-aged woman, AMMA waits wearily outside a door. She holds a petition in her hand.

AMMA: I never thought it would get to this, really.
They are taking complete advantage now.
I gave them everything and yet they don’t
respect me at all in any damn way.
Take take take that’s all they ever do, really.
There’s nothing worse than ungrateful children.

Looks at her watch.

Wonder what those boys are doing in there?
Gambling I bet, over the fate of child armies
In Africa or Asia.
Sonu* Surya Vayu Indra Agni**
I’m still out here with this petition, boys!
It’s rude to keep guests waiting for so long,
and it isn’t as if I have nothing to do with
every second of the day.
Grass needs growing. Hippos need evolving.
Babies of all sorts need blessings, really.
On top of it all I must deal with this.
I ignored it for as long as I could.
Turned a blind eye like Horatio Nelson.
Fat lot of good it did either of us.
He’s stuck up on a column and I’m here.
Take take take that’s all they ever do, really.
I could just roll over and die like that

Snaps her fingers.

I’m sure they would love for that to happen.
Everything would be theirs for the taking.
Scavengers want to dissect my carcass,
suck up my blood and blowout my innards.
These are my children but until I’m dry and dead they won’t
be satisfied at all.
You know how hard it is for me to believe my own kids are
doing this to me?
I wouldn’t mind so much if it was some invading Martian
offspring, but my own?
Born of me. Succoured and served, dependent
on my good will, my energy, expense?
It’s tragic but I can’t help laughing now-
all the best jokes tell the saddest stories.

Looks at the paper and laughs.

I’ve had this trick up my sleeve a long time.
It’s time to unleash my secret weapon.
Once this petition is served they will weep.
They will wail, wallow, wish but all in vain.
Open this door it’s time for them to pay!
You must hear my case or I will perish.
There is no time to dally anymore.
Sonu* Surya Vayu Indra Agni**
A mother never thinks badly of her children but
Obliteration is near.
I hear them scream. My other children cry.
They are being butchered for their bit parts
What kind of child kills its own mother, really?


A child is nothing without a mother.
I gave them everything, all I’ve bestowed.
They would not have existed without me.
They would have perished without protection.


Love. I am pushed to my very limit.
Trembling upon the edge of a precipice
facing imminent oblivion.
I have given warning after warning.
Chance after chance after chance I gave them.
Cried, called, begged, bartered and bargained with them.
Stamped my foot, slammed the door, bitten the dust.
Still I am assaulted mercilessly
by those who should love me as I loved them.
My tears blood guts seep into foul soiled ground. Trampled
down to dry dust. Invisible.
They don’t hear me no matter how I cry.
Host to persistent fetid parasite
Consumed alive by virulent virus
Piece by piece until nothing will be left.
I am here to petition the very Gods,
if they ever finish their game of dice.

Amma bangs hard on the door. The door opens. Dazzling light shines out.

Sonu* Surya Vayu Indra Agni.
You are my last hope for true salvation.
Send these gifts freely to wayward children
Typhoon cyclone hurricane, tsunami
Earthquake twister landslide avalanche
Flood drought wildfire volcanic eruption.
Unleash your fury with unbated breath
Tornados to sweep them away like crumbs
Tsunamis to wash them away like paint
Blizzards bombast until bones become brittle
and break like twigs in the sun.
Take take take that’s all they ever do, really.
Let them take my wrath. Take this petition.


Once fire has burned and carnage is complete,
all my other children… those without thumbs
will be safe once more to roam wild and free.
I warned you about opposable thumbs.
They’re such crooked little digits, really.




*Sonu: Listen (in Hindi)

**Surya Varuna Vayu Indra Agni: Vedic Gods of sun, oceans, wind, thunder & fire