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I am a Woman

by Shalu
(New Delhi, India)

I am many in one—
Daughter, sister, wife, mother.
I am perfect at who I am.
I have to be.
You will not have it any other way.
I am beautiful, coy, and gentle;
I am soft;
I nurture;
I bleed, and I plead;
I have to live within my boundaries
Created by you.
You decide how I should look, dress, or behave.
It is my life but it is you who gets a say.
You decided
That I belong in the kitchen,
Or in a corner
When I forget my place—
Battered, nursing my wounds;
You say I deserve it:
A hit here and there,
For crossing the boundaries
You created to suit your fancies,
To remind me
That I am a woman—
Weak and inferior.
You hurt me;
You beat me;
You break my bones, and burn me;
You kill me;
And when that is not enough,
You violate me.
Because I am a woman
Asking for it.
My yes means yes.
My no also means a yes.
My consent holds no meaning.
You force your will on me either way.
I make compromises,
And sacrifices
All for your sake.
You say that it is who I am,
Yet you stay indifferent to my pain.
I bleed for five days every month,
And this is when you label me dirty.
It is just an excuse for you
To restrict me even more.
My voice and my opinions
Make you uneasy.
You ask me to smile more
Cause it makes me look pretty.
You laugh at my anger,
Calling it that time of the month.
After all I am nothing,
When I walk down the street,
But a bank left without security
That you have a right to rob
And be on your way.
You will respect me
If I follow your rules.
You will call me names
If I break a few.
Till the time I am silent
I am as good as one can be.
But when I raise my voice
I become a feminazi.
I have to face obstacles
With every step I take.
Wherever I go,
You are something
That I cannot escape
The idea of my independence
Scares you.
So you keep yourself busy
In holding me down.
Your feeling of entitlement
Has made you blind,
That you refuse to see
Who I am—
I am a woman.
I came into this world kicking and screaming.
I will not go gentle into the night.
I am a warrior.
I will fight till the end off light.
I am a woman.
I will not be silenced.


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