I am an Indian woman..

(This poem has references to the stories of Sita from the Indian epic Ramayana, Draupadi from the Indian epic Mahabharata and Rani Padmini, who was a Queen in the modern state of Rajasthan in the 13th century. Most Indians have some familiarity with their stories.)

 

Sita

 

I was a goddess supposedly

That was not enough to let me be free

To have a voice, to be able to protest

Decisions unjust- at my husband’s behest

I had to leave my palace in a delicate state

Be banished to the forest-such was my fate

Decided by gossip his majesty overheard

I did not even have a chance to say a word

About my innocence-mind you, I had already

Walked through fire to prove my chastity

That was after months of humiliation

That I had faced in my imprisoned situation

Throughout my life decisions had been made

By the men in my life, the path for me had been laid

Goddess I might be, but the rules of patriarchy

Did not prevent me from blemish, you see

**

Draupadi

You know a colossal war was fought over me

That changed the course of Bharatvarsha’s history

My husbands fought gallantly but I must say

They had the cowardice to gamble me away

I was violated publicly, my crime had been

To make fun of Duryodhana which he had seen

As an affront to his male ego, this, in a world

Dominated by patriarchy, a monster unfurled

After the war, on our heavenward journey

I was the first to fall, bringing more humiliation to me

My sin- to one of the five, partiality I had displayed

Love was not a choice I was allowed to have made..

**

Rani Padmini

 

Little did I know what would ideally be

A positive quality would turn out for me

A death sentence-what was worse

The women of my kingdom fell with me, such was the curse

Of my beauty- that caused a battle to be fought

Tragedy struck, without our men, our lot

Was doomed- patriarchal rules were such

That honor was important, life not so much…

So we committed large-scale harakiri

This forced cowardice, ironically, is labeled bravery..

**

Modern Indian woman

 

We talk about strong women in our culture and history

Yet on closer examination you see

That their stories follow ultimately

Rules established by patriarchy

So when I fight for gender equality

I am fighting thousands of years of history

The patriarchal mindset is deeply ingrained

In both women and men- though we have gained

Some ground in addressing this issue deep-seated

Frequent crimes against women leave me feeling defeated..

We need to change mindsets, one by one

Starting with our daughters and sons

3 thoughts on “I am an Indian woman..

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