Sadhana Subramanian, INDIA


All the words that sprout in
Your little rebellious fist
Let them grow
But don’t let them get out of hand
Write within the margins of the accepted
No y's asking for too much
No 'f's stepping out of line
Oh and please make your ‘g’s behave
They leave spots often on our whites

My dear, like a songbird
All the songs you have hummed into your pillow
But Iet me set the tune of your anguish
Get the bass just right for you, you see
So it sound sees like a symphony
All strings attached to me
I pull, you sing, anything, anything really
No pitch too high though, like a feminist rant
Please! My ears hurt with the noise
Of your rights and my wrongs
And the sound of your drumsticks
Beating down the ‘flaws’ of the system

Wild and free, feel the wind in your hair
Let the soles of your feet soil
But don’t run too fast, against the grain
Leaving behind all that you must do
Husbands that must be borne
Children that must be born
Don’t run too slow, you gotta keep up with
The milestones of morals,
That your sister crossed, your best friend too
Yes the pretty one
The one without a tattoo
Or cigarette butts on ambitious ash-trays
Or legs stretched on the wrong side of womanly ways

By all means, as much as you have to
As much as you need to
But within the walls of purity
And the edicts of how and where a woman must bleed
As proclaimed in the books of wise-men
And of Gods, who are sensitive, that take offense
Sitting quietly on a hill, closing their doors
To those who made him he

Go on, take the spotlight
Bright like a star
Cast away the darkness
Pitch, dense, slightly blunt
Around the edges
With the weight of obedience
But don’t bask in it too much
Too much light is blinding
Too much light overshadows
The rumblings of my thunder

Because boys don’t
And if someone should let tears free
It has to be you
The weaker of us must be piled on
Feelings aren’t unisex salons, you know
Where gender roles
Hang in black and white
From fancy hooks tied
To conventions of how one must
And should be
In happiness and in grief

No, wait
Haven’t you said enough already?

I say no, you forgot hope
Hope's a verb, you know
And before you take the trouble to mansplain
The boundaries of grammar
Let me tell you, English is like a woman
Bound by absurd rules
The active, the passive
And its PMS-ing clauses
So it's ok if you don't get it
But there's hope

So I Hope…
For the margins to dissolve that bind us to go by the book
So boundless words flow like a river without narrow fences

For the cages in their minds to swing open
So the songbird sings its own tune

For the upholders of sanctity to celebrate purity of the spirit
Not the anatomy of the sexes and its ebbs and flows

For keepers of fragile egos to let us have our space in the sky
Among the celestial, not eclipsed by the light of their moons.

For the roads to stretch their legs wide into the horizon
So we aren’t measured by milestones, but how far we’ve come without them

So, hope. For hope doesn't need your consent.


And one day, she took wing
To fly into a rainbow
That tempted from afar
bright, colorful, vibrant
this new world, her calling.

Wild and free,
She leapt into the arms
of a promised land.
Away from the familiar,
Into the unknown
Like sky diving.

And one day, he clipped her wings.
Drowning her dreams
In his cup of desires
Her modesty in his dirty hands
Gnawing away slowly
At her scanty robe of hope.
She caved, surrendered, ran.

Alone with her naked self,
She confronted the mirror
Why did you have to go?
Why did you let him?
Why did you... do nothing?
That dress! it was bound to happen.
Can't you see?

And one day,
She flew backwards,
Like a hummingbird homebound.
Uprooted, recoiled, silent, guilty.

At the end of the darkest hour,
She found a voice she'd submerged
In the muddled waters of norms
In how things must and should be.
Oh but why did she?

The boys clubs disapproved.
The gas lighters killed the fire.
Too late, they said, this accusation.
Imagination gone too far.
Reputation's not a ladder.
They ganged up, men and women,
Cordoned off, him, the gentleman.
There's no way he could, could he?
So why did she?

Like predators needed saving,
Wearing masks of crusaders for change.
Can't touch him, he's a genius.
But he can, without a facade.
Because boys will be boys.
There's such a thing as patriarchy.
So why did she?

For years and years,
You've barked up the wrong tree.
Painted your walls
With deep misogyny.
It was never about her.
It was always about he.
And yet you ask why did she?

The first time Sadhana Subramanian strung two sentences together was on the back cover of an old, half-torn yellow pages directory. Since then, the pen hasn’t stopped. It has written odes to life, love, politics, women’s empowerment, and social issues. Her work has been published in reputed online poetry hubs like and She was the winner of the Six Week Poetry Challenge conducted by the prestigious On Fire Cultural Movement. She has been a featured poet at Tuesday’s with the Bard, India’s longest running poetry event.  Currently, Sadhana is a Senior Editor for a digital marketing agency.

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