Page 33 - October 2020
P. 33

Painting by
                                                                                                Parvathy J P

             I was cast out. Box leaders wanted a younger  woman to take my place, someone
             they could train to submit to rules, someone with lower expectations.
             Even if I stayed, in-box chatter suggested that wage reductions were expected for
             women  because  the  men  were  demanding  what  they  called  “overdue  increases.”
             Why suffer that indignity? There would be no going further for women under the
             current system. Boldness was the only cure.
             After I was let go, a man from the office reached out to me. He said that he’d fought
             for  me  to  stay,  citing  my  experience  and  value  to  the  company.  The  box  CEOs
             rewarded  him  with  a  pink  slip  of  his  own.  They’d  become  wary  of  anyone  that
             advocated for women.
             My husband, older, long retired, and content with his stipend, suggested I let it all
             go,  but  I  couldn’t.  Lily  had  come  home  sounding  like  a  corporate  cog.  She  was
             excited  to  meet  the  expectations  of  her  male  employers  and  insisted  submission

             would  help  her  rise  further  than  I  had.  It  was  all  the  same  claptrap  I’d  told  my
             mother when I started at the company. Nothing had changed.
             I decided to blow the lid off the place once and for all. I gathered the most radical
             women I could find, women who’d protested with me for years. Women I trusted.
             After  years  of  disappointment,  most  had  a  hint  of  madness  in  their  eyes.  When
             they’d whisper “dynamite” or “murder,” it was as if they were saying, “I love you.”
             It’s funny, most of my life I was wary of radicals, now I was one.
             The day the bomb went off it rocked the box from its bottom to its top. It blew a hole
             in  the  ceiling  that  allowed  scores  of  women  and  a  few  men  to  escape.  I  was
             blindsided when Lily refused to come with us. She was too young to see clearly, I
             had to leave her behind.
             Outside there were boxes in all directions. We headed for the wilderness ready to

             build a new world. I’d never felt more alive.
             Now  women  outnumbered  men.  We  bid  our  men  to  build  a  business  cube,
             something more matriarchal and modern than the male run boxes of the past. Men
             prepared  our  food,  cleaned  our  homes,  and  disposed  of  our  waste.  They  had
             burdened  us,  now  it  was  their  turn  to  toil.  Besides,  menial  labor  is  men’s  work.
             Women  set  the  rules,  and  only  women  can  vote.  We  let  our  heels  dig  into  their
             backs because everyone knows you have to control one’s lessers to create a just
   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38