Everywhere I go in Kolkata, I see people, mostly women, behind bars of iron.  Sometimes the iron has been shaped and twisted into beautiful patterns that resemble vines and flowers.  Sometimes the bars are painted to match the rest of the building or the shutters.  Often these women are looking out from behind the bars, and I wonder what they are thinking.  Do they wonder if they are protected from the outside world somehow, or if the world is protected from them?  The bars are not so common on the houses of the rich.  Though there may be more to steal, there is less of value inside the houses of the wealthy.  The bars remind me of shacks in rural Meghalaya, abandoned or just left for a time by their owners.  The shacks all have padlocks on their doors, which look like you could kick them in with one half-hearted blow.  Again, I wonder about what people choose to protect.

I wonder, too, what a life seen through bars must be like.  Does the rain, when it comes, seem different?  I think if I had bars, I would often lean my head against them and smell the acrid metal, until someone broke me from my reverie.


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