Contemporary Literary Review India | Print ISSN 2250-3366 | Online ISSN 2394-6075 | Impact Factor 8.1458 | Vol. 10, No. 1: CLRI February 2023

Ila Railkar

We are daughters

They told us girls in tender years

To be like you O Goddess fair

We heard of your justice divine

Our heads bent in ardent prayer

They scolded us for playing rough

“How you dirty your pretty dress!”

And sneered at us wearing make-up

Yet calling our bare faces a mess

They pushed us hard to do our best

“You better use the chance we give”

But if we failed, would pounce to say

Beneath men rightly must we live

They washed our feet as little girls

To worship the mother goddess

Upon our first blood though we were beasts

Our bodies dens of foul darkness

They pampered us with dainty gifts

“Girls are truly our pride and joy”

And hacked us into pieces if

Against their wish married a boy

I think they did this to you too

O goddess, of this I am assured

For your stone idol never weeps

When your daughters scream every word

For me

You parted through crowds, for a glimpse of me

And scaled the wall steep, for a word with me

And braved the gardener, for a rose for me

And wrote love poems, for a smile from me

And starved willingly, for a grape for me

And travelled all Persia, for perfume for me

When it was time to face your love for me,

Cast aside the wrath of the world for me,

To trust in our future, yourself, and me-

Like the obedient sons of times old and new

You bowed to them, without a thought for me,

And married the girl from the same caste.

In your own palms, you crushed your love for me

Ila Railkar is an Indian poet, based in Mumbai. She often writes on themes of feminism, human rights, and history. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue River Review, Thimble Magazine, Indian Review, and elsewhere.

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