“Not for 200 years merely, but from the beginning of time, women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. women have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry.”
The following list of poems of Indian Women Writers is by no means exhaustive and does not provide an adequate representation. These poems are merely my favourite ones that reflect the way women are treated in the society through lucid, hard hitting lines.
‘How can you be modest’ by Akka Mahadevi
male and female,
blush when a cloth covering their shame
When the lord of lives
lives drowned without a face
in the world, how can you be modest?
When all the world is the eye of the lord,
onlooking everywhere, what can you
cover and conceal?
‘The River of Girls’ by Tishani Doshi
i.m. India’s missing girls
This is not really myth or secret.
This murmur in the mouth
of the mountain where the sound
of rain is born. This surging
past pilgrim town and village well.
This coin-thin vagina
and acid stain of bone.
This doctor with his rusty tools,
this street cleaner, this mother
laying down the bloody offerings
of birth. This is not the cry
of a beginning, or a river
buried in the bowels of the earth.
This is the sound of ten million girls
singing of a time in the universe
when they were born with tigers
breathing between their thighs;
when they set out for battle
with all three eyes on fire,
their golden breasts held high
like weapons to the sky.
‘The Looking Glass’ by Kamala Das
Getting a man to love you is easy
Only be honest about your wants as
Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him
So that he sees himself the stronger one
And believes it so, and you so much more
Softer, younger, lovelier. Admit your
Admiration. Notice the perfection
Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under
The shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor,
Dropping towels, and the jerky way he
Urinates. All the fond details that make
Him male and your only man. Gift him all,
Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of
Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your
Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting
A man to love is easy, but living
Without him afterwards may have to be
Faced. A living without life when you move
Around, meeting strangers, with your eyes that
Gave up their search, with ears that hear only
His last voice calling out your name and your
Body which once under his touch had gleamed
Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute.
‘Marriages are Made’ by Euince deSouza
My cousin Elena
is to be married
have been completed:
her family history examined
for T.B. and madness
her father declared solvent
her eyes examined for squints
her teeth for cavities
her stools for the possible
She’s not quite tall enough
and not quite full enough
(children will take care of that)
Her complexion it was decided
would compensate, being just about
the right shade
to do justice to
Francisco X. Noronha Prabhu
good son of Mother Church.
‘Becoming a Brahmin’ by Meena Kandasamy
Algorithm for converting a Shudra into a Brahmin
Step 1: Take a beautiful Shudra girl.
Step 2: Make her marry a Brahmin.
Step 3: Let her give birth to his female child.
Step 4: Let this child marry a Brahmin.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 six times.
Step 6: Display the end product. It is a Brahmin.
Algorithm advocated by Father of the Nation at Tirupur.
Documented by Periyar on 20-09-1947.
Algorithm for converting a pariah into a Brahmin.
Awaiting another Father of the Nation
to produce this algorithm.
Inconvenience caused due to inadvertent delay
is sincerely regretted.
Curated by: Anandha Lekshmi Nair