Vidya Shankar, INDIA

Exclusive: Best of Women Poetry: Edited by Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy

‘It’s a girl,’ the midwife’s words woke me.  
I smiled. Sucking my thumb, I elbowed and turned
My knees drawn about me, I was slipping back to sleep.
But those voices — angry, threatening, vicious —
Why did I feel my mother shiver with fear? 
A cacophonic discordance of pleading and abusing
Why did I feel it was all because of me?
A lurch, a fall, a bump against the ground
A foot kicked my mother’s belly — wasn’t me!
‘Noooo,’ wailed my mother, protective arms around me
Was she crawling? No, someone was dragging her 
By her hair...a forcible shove, and the bang of doors...
All was dark as the night thrust upon us, our tears 
Flowing greater than the rain soaking up our skins 
Was it wrong being a girl? I cringed. But my mother
She stood as Shakti, stoicism mingled with tears, braving 
The dark, the rain, the thunder ― her strength became mine.
Morning brought the sun and my travelling father home
His bellows louder than the roar of last night’s thunder
Challenging his kin who dared lay their contemptible hands
Upon his sweet princess. I stirred. And smiled again. Safe.
A foot kicked my mother’s belly — was me!
And, as nurturing maternal hands swaddled me
Daddy’s determined girl rose to take on the world.

Shakti: the female principle of divine energy

Vidya Shankar, a widely published poet and writer, is a motivational speaker, yoga enthusiast, and English language teacher. An active member of poetry circles, she is the recipient of literary awards and recognitions. Vidya Shankar has two books to her name―The Flautist of Brindaranyam (a collaboration with her photographer husband) and The Rise of Yogamaya. She has also been on the editorial team of three anthologies. A “book” with the Human Library, Chennai, Vidya Shankar uses the power of her words to create awareness about environmental issues, mental health, and the need to break the shackles of an outdated society.

Best of Women Poetry -2020 :: Setu, March 2020

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