Wo-man

Wo-man

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.

Shabnam Kaur

(Picture courtesy: PicsArt)

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