Dr. Ketaki Datta, INDIA


She stood up, after being manhandled
By a host of ruffian youths
At the shop counter,
And in sharp tongue refused to
Be led on to a tenement
They coerced her to go.
The late evening air ruffled,
The moon hanging sluggishly
at the left nook of the sky
shuddered for a moment,
The hooligans could not believe
 Their eyes, their senses even,
 When they found themselves
On all fours, by a heavy slap
Or a smashing shove
Or just a cut in the air
By a strong hand, a skilled hand
The blow went gaga in its ponderous impact,
In its beauty of protest!
Strength and courage, thy name is Woman!

WOMAN AND SUPER-WOMAN                                 

Mother taught her never to say “no”
Father taught her all ill-feelings to let go,
Brother taught her to be submissive,
Granny taught her to bow down to the oppressive!

Now, she has come of age,
Bearing eighteen winters and summers’ rage,
Now, she has a heart with a yearning for love,
Knowing well that man is eagle and she, a dove!

She knows now how to clean rooms,
Where and how to keep the brooms,
Now she knows to kiss her soul-mate ‘bye,
As he goes to office and comes back with a bloated I!

Now she caters to her family, silently,
If spoken to, she speaks so stoically,
Now she does not go and take a breather
On the southern terrace, be it any weather!

Now she cries not, gives in to slaps and kicks,
Now she smiles often, knowing well that a pin pricks,
Those were the years when she screamed in pain,
Those were the years when she smiled often, fain.

 She is crowned with success on mortifying senses,
 She is lauded for delaying her menses,
 For yielding joy to her hubby lost in drunken stupor,
 For making all happy, running her chores in a way, super!

CHANGING ROLES                         

All day long she had sewn the blouses,
All ordered by rich ladies,
Each of them thrusted three pieces 
To be stitched by Uma, the seamstress.
Uma earns her living by doing it,
Day in, day out for mother--decrepit,
For her purblind father and a sister,
She loves to be the sole breadwinner.

Uma takes care of everyone’s need,
Uma daily neglects her own supper,
Uma loves to have her mom, well-fed,
Uma prays for her father’s eyesight, to be better.

Her sister is in school, studying,
Her father needs eye-drop for seeing,
Her mother stays on physiotherapy,
She knows no respite, yet she’s happy.

Durgapuja* is inching nearer,
All attires are lying ready
For her near ones and hosts of customer
Only, Uma is feeling unsteady.
While earthen Uma arrives with alacrity!
Tuberculosis, untreated,
Plays havoc with her life instead.
And now? Gauri has to play her role,
She is still in school, though runs life’s rigmarole!

*Durgapuja – an important festival of West Bengal, India

Dr. Ketaki Datta is an Associate Professor of English with Bidhannagar Govt. College, Kolkata. Apart from academic publications, she has two novels, three translated novels and a book of poems, “Across the Blue Horizon” (funded by Arts Council, England) to her credit, apart from a bunch of short stories: both original and translated.

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