I Turn Away

[Note: This poem is dedicated to the women who have been subjected to sexual violence, rape, subjugation, and discrimination in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. The poem should be read in the context of certain cultural practices and historical events. I wrote this poem after the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012].


My heart, it breaks
It rains blood
I am a moon massacred
In a darksome night

I am not the first one
Nor will I be the last indeed
Yet I am alone in grief
All alone in my agony

They ask me to mask my face
To garrison my body
And disguise my curves
To fortify my buttocks
And fasten my vagina
Lest I shall seduce
Cause them to sin
Or pursue my desires

In the days bygone
They bought and had me sold
In lieu of tears, riches and gold
I brought disgust
In the eyes of my creators
They buried me in shame
Or else set me aflame
I became the property
Of kings and noblemen
Of prophets and priests

Nowadays there’s talk
Of my liberation
I am in the headlines
Of the daily newspapers
My body is on display
On television screens
In posters and billboards
Street corners and city squares

I am a toy in the hefty hands
Of the pimps and politicians
My existence is a threat
To the social structure
And communal harmony
My suffering a collateral damage
In the territorial conflicts
Domestic and international affairs

They keep playing with me
I am their victim
The weaker sex
The lesser human
Poor woman!

Today, I turn away my face
From the cruel humanity —
Let there be no tears, no fears
No retribution whatsoever
Let there be no solicitation
For justice anymore —

© Sadaf Munshi, 2013

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