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Do these women have rights?

These women who break rocks
These women who carry bricks
These women who in Temples please Gods

What Gods?

Devdasis?

Can they Me Too?

Farmers’ wives, sweepers,
Women who clean dirt
From homes and yet
Live in dirt themselves.
Women who could not go to school

Can they Me Too?

Women who remain
Unlettered, Unfed, Unclothed
Women whose children die before birth
from malnutrition
Women whose malnourished children stare bare-backed
and Beg at traffic junctions
Migrant labour — Women, Men, Children

Which of them have rights?

Poverty denies
Defies Pollution
Defies Education
Defies Wealth

Poverty has Beliefs, Rituals —

— Nebulous Gods and Goddesses—

The only respite from the sordidness of daily denials

Rituals, small matters — we say — and customs

Selfies taken by foam-filled rivers sneer at devotees doing rituals.

The foam created by industrial waste —

— Industries that generate wealth for those with rights,

for the Selfie-takers with the latest mobiles

Can you tell me —

Do these ritualistic, uneducated, unfashionable know what’s right?
Do they know their rights?
Can they fight?

These torn rugged bare feet women at the red light
These walking, stalking in crimson
The worshippers by foam-filled riversides —
Do they too have rights?
Any Rights?

Mitali Chakravarty’s poetry has been published online and as part of anthologies, Harbinger Asylum Quarterly (November, 2019), In Reverie (2016), An Anthology of Indian Poetry in English (1984). Some of her poetry has recently been translated to German. Mitali herself translates from Bengali and Hindi to English. She has published a humorous book of essays on living in China where she spent eight years, In the Land of Dragons (2014). She had numerous bylines in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and The Statesman in the 1980s up to 1992 and more recently online on Kitaab.orgCountercurrentModern Literature, Words and Worlds and The Daily Star (Bangladesh). This April, she joined kitaab.org as the editor. She blogs at 432m.wordpress.com.


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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Rights? – 432m's Blog

  2. David Kennedy says:

    Truth in Beauty; Beauty in Truth. This poem is both beautiful AND true.