The old woman in the purple chador

The old woman in the purple chador locks sad eyes with me,
hers from the back of a truck,
mine from the back of a taxi.

Her eyes plead with me,
I don’t know what to say
and yet my stunned eyes say it all.


I half smile offering sympathy,
but she knows that I can’t empathise, not truly
and she can’t smile.
Her mouth is gagged with a black rag,
her arms held behind her back with the black cloth
bandaged around her chest.

I look beside her and see rows of women just like her.
My driver overtakes
and the moment is gone.

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