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Thou Art A Woman

by Nazia Kamali
(Dehradun, India)

Armed with my college degree
eyes full of dreams
I went to every interview looking crisp.

The beginnings were always the same
and strangely the endings too.

What do you do on weekends?
Are you free for dinner tonight?
Short skirts and tight shirts
make you look bright.

Some were better though
They smiled and nodded at my answers.
I beamed with pride.
But soon the trials would resurface.

What are your plans for marriage?
How long would the maternity leave be?
Will you take a break to raise the child?
We believe in making long term relationship with the employees.

Tired of all the rejections
I approached an old friend
Why don’t you try being a waitress? He said
People love looking at pretty things while they eat.

The word banged against the walls of my head.
A hot wave of rage shot through my body
Is that what I am?

Determined to excel
I enrolled myself into a graduate school

Two years passed
Recruiters came and left.
But I wasn’t hired.

The faculty head roared
They wanted me to write for the fashion segment.
What’s wrong with that?
I am not interested.
How come?
Every other girl is.

They try to
Define me
Mould me
Condition me
into a creature of their choice.

They chain me
Refrain me
Beat me
Enslave me.
when I try to resist
they call me names.
And witch.
They then burn me alive

Laughing at my anguish they declare
‘Thee need to be tamed
Thou art a woman after all’


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