Durga, I ask you

Panchamrit, to bathe her battle wounds
Oti, of bright red silk to drape her like a bride
Abeer, sindoor, haldi, gopichandan, kapoor:
embellishments for her preternatural idol
Naivaidya, the offering of a feast divine

So what is it about you that makes people fold their hands
bend their knees, bow their heads eager to please?
You ride to battles mounted on a roaring but tamed lion
I grew up battling with howling scavengers for food scraps
You are draped in rich red sarees with shiny blue borders
There hasn’t been a day when my skin wasn’t coloured with
red lashes and blue bruises, credits to my husband and his mother
You are hailed as All-Mother, and feared as a mother-in-law
I have seven starving kids back at home; I fill their stomach with rebuke and tears
You are shaped with your hair, dark and strong, free flowing with the wild winds
I wear my hair like that too, in my helpless ignorance of vanity and decorum
You are extolled for being the first fabulous feature of feminism
because you slayed patriarchal demons with your many hands;
hence they preserve you in gold, silver and stone
I am the sole breadwinner in a family of nine,
I pay for my husband’s medicines and then his booze
for my children’s tuitions and their grandmother’s shoes, with two coarse hands.
I live in a ramshackle that festers more disease than delight, it’s dark even in daylight
Every inch I move forward, every child of mine that graduates primary school,
every Diwali that I light a golden diya at my front door
is a tight slap on the face of patriarchy
And because of that exactly is my entire existence ignored;
I will not be preserved by my name or virtue, maybe as a nugatory number someday
when some bored aristocrat fancies the whim of
calculating the casualties of absolute poverty.
So tell me exactly what is it about you that makes people fold their hands
bend their knees, bow their heads eager to please?

Panchamrit, to bathe her battle wounds
Oti, of bright red silk to drape her like a bride
Abeer, sindoor, haldi, gopichandan, kapoor:
embellishments for her preternatural idol
Naivaidya, the offering of a feast divine

12 Comments

  1. My favorite phrase, first of all is “it’s dark even in daylight”. There are stories in adversity aren’t there? In the blind and utterly thankless devotion towards all gods with a face.

    I can see multiple things this poem is trying to say. I wonder if it is my interpretation or your intention

    Liked by 1 person

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