Here I Lie: A #Poem On Dowry Death

Posted on August 24, 2011 in Society

By Reeti Singh:

Smiling blisters of a burned, whipped body-
Lie here I, my dear Sir.
Cracked wounds bleeding blood,
Black, red, blue and purple.


From father’s home,
I came encased in silken weaves of bridal prescriptions,
And with me came all that you kind Sirs demanded, and more…
Hoarded together and brought to your door-
Ahead of the palanquin that bore me,
Ahead of me, when welcomed to my future abode.

Greedy eyed, you kind Sirs examined the harbinger,
You kind Ladies took care of my jewels and precious yarns of traditional looms .
Promptly directed I was to march to the bedroom-
Where you lay, hungry eyed…

It took you not much time
To take care of the thin cotton sari imputed to me, –
My constant and sole attire within the household gates…
Now there it lies,
Charred, breathing its last-
Lashed by flame-licked wounds,
Drained of all its years of falsified adornment.

For years now I have served your family,
Washed your father’s, brother’s and mother’s underwear-
Swept the floors, swabbed every corner.
Cooked many meals, washed utensils, milked the cow-
Served your bed.

Satiated never was still your soul,
Not yours, nor your kind gendered family’s.
You kind Sirs and Ladies wanted more,
More and more and so much more-
A son you demanded,
You planted one and got it too-
But not once, not twice, nor thrice was enough still,
And so you planted another one of your little future-heirs in my fatigued, voided womb.

And then she came…
My little one…
I watched with silenced anguish,
While you drowned her in a bucket full of water-
My child… no older than an hour-while’s life…
but she was no heir,
She was but a burden-
Whose palanquin’s harbinger, to you now seemed a besetment-
She then became a bundle to be gotten rid of,
As was I-
When married at the age of thirteen,
To you my dear Sir…

Here I lie,
Here I lie-
Burnt, whipped, thrashed-
Punished appropriately for the birth of the nuisance,
Punished appropriately for the years I served.
Punished for I could not give you more-
More and more and so much more!

Here I lie,
Awaiting my much deserved end.
For no more gifts were left to be sent from my father’s home,
No more heirs had I to add to your gendered kin-peer of gendered Sirs and Ladies.
And therefore here I lie.

Here I lie,
Here I Lie-
Oozing wounds of a thrashed, flame-licked body-
Lie here I, my dear Sir.
Cracked wounds bleeding blood,
Black, red, blue and purple.