This one may be for Dilli,
Kathua, or Unnao.
But more so,
For your father who said
He must find you a suitable man
Because ‘unmarried women
Can never escape dirty gazes’
And ‘society will not let you live’.
This is for,
Your mother who looked at other girls
And told you not to be ‘characterless’
Like them, who said father wouldn’t
Like it if you did this and father
Would be furious if you did that.
For the grandmother who
Turned your sister’s skirts to bathroom rags
At menarche and told her
Ever so diplomatically
How elegant she looked in salwars.
You have all contributed to this,
To making us second-class citizens;
You have let the broken window puff
Its chest out in the streets and parade
The message that anything goes here!
That women are contingencies of
Men and they have the monopoly
To make us or break us.
This is not even about rape.
You can slice a thousand Hydra’s heads,
You will only have removed a lamp
From a smouldering house.
(Picture courtesy: PicsArt)