The following poem is a winning entry in the CREA contest on “Violence And Women: What Remains UnseenÂ ”
By Nandini Mazumder:
She burned in hell’s fire,
She burned in her husband’s pyre.
Homeless and stripped of colours, she had no identity.
She was the child widow after all,
Left at the mercy of strangers, left to their whims and fancy.
Tormented and tortured as a little child.
Forced to beg and live in penury at old-age.
At birth she wasn’t welcome; fated to be the eternal ‘other’.
Her existence only in relations — wife, sister or mother.
She is silenced behind these names we gave her.
She was to hold these names as her badges of honour
She never went to school.
Her education was to know her place in the world and her play was hard-labour.
And yet her life is a testimony of endless shame, of agony, of pain.
Denied equal opportunities, she starved while serving her brothers, fathers, husbands…
She toiled hard at home first and then in the fields too.
Defeated by the burden of dowry, she was married off early.
In the new household, just like at birth she was once again the ‘other’.
Her life could be validated if she bore them a son.
If she bore daughters, she would be unwanted and shunned.
The story of her life, caught in the grips of men and their whims.
When she pursued an education or wanted a career like men,
She is seen as an abomination; a danger to the male domination.
She is the “loose woman“.
Her character assassinated, her values are questioned.
Every attack is blamed at her skirt’s length and the ‘corrupt foreign culture‘ with its evil influence.
She is “asking for it” so she is taught a lesson through rape, molestation and other violent violations.
Her torment exists as long as her body does; her torment ends only with her death.
Her ill-fated destiny saw her burning in agony,
It is the acid thrown at her by a scorned lover tired of waiting.
She was sold to feed the hunger of her family.
She was sold to feed the lust and violent perversion of men,
She died with every breath she took, she desperately sought an escape.
But she is a woman, fated to be forever ‘guilty’.
Doomed to be killed at birth or before; raped, burnt and beaten in life.
Her resistance is not registered and often she pays with her life to escape her torment.
And yet the earth is supposed to be a female, the mother’s womb is female.
Unsafe at home, unsafe outside; cursed in death, cursed in life.
We forgot she was also a human being and left her to die.
She breathed her last breath and we didn’t even hear her sigh.