Tag Archives: girl

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This one is from the archives. This poem holds a special meaning for me because of two reasons:

  • It was recognized by UNICEF as a literary piece spreading awareness about child abuse, specifically that of the girl child.
  • It introduced me to my life partner — this was the first piece of my writing he encountered and was touched enough to drop me a line. The rest, as they say, is history.

This poem is based on the right of a child to be protected from abuse and exploitation. I have not titled this poem because I want the readers to feel that just as a poem is incomplete without its title, childhood is incomplete without protection from the law.

Dark brown eyes that are red because of crying,
All hopes of escape and freedom are dying;

Clothes have been torn, hair is a tangled mess,
The face has lost all its childishness;
Hands and feet show marks of the whip,
Blood flows down from the cracked, parched lips;
Since the past three days no food has been eaten,
Her faith in God stands totally beaten.

Only seventy-two hours have passed since the time
There was laughter in life and bright sunshine
There were mother, father, and a lovely baby brother…
So what if they lived in a hut near the gutter?
There was dearth of money and they couldn’t eat well
But life was peaceful, and who had thought of such hell?

Loving neighbors, all sweepers by profession,
Who cared, but were financially in depression.
City life was expensive and father wanted the best for his son,
So he came up with an idea that would give him returns;
The very next day he came wearing a new coat,
In his hands he held hundred rupees’ ten crisp notes;
Life changed its course from that very moment
But there was no thunder, no lightning in the firmament!

The door creaked open and light illuminated the room
That hulk of a man, that lubber, spelled doom…
The message was to ask her if she was ready to come,
A customer was waiting — his fear made her numb;
But she was too tired to resent any longer,
Moreover, the louts were much, much stronger,
They washed her clean and gave her a dress
How she looked, is anybody’s guess.
She was led to a room where she would spend the rest of her life,
A girl of twelve followed by a lecherous man of thirty-five…

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Celebrating women for a day

Here is an article I wrote for Hindustan Times a couple of years ago. For my readers in India, let me know if things have changed for the better on the streets, in the houses, at work …

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In 1909 some women textile workers in New York went on strike. After thirteen weeks of relentless opposition they won for themselves shorter working hours, better pay and a right to unionize. This uprising in those bleak times was recognized by marking March 8 as International Women’s Day.

One day out of 365 to appreciate women and all they do.

It wasn’t till Ponds’ publicized the celebrations on the telly did I come to know of the festivities across the globe. I felt happy. Here I was, a sixteen year old studying in an all girls’ institution exchanging spirited Archie’s cards on a solemn occasion. The significance of the day for me? We got free candies!

Apart from that one treat, everything else remained the same. I carried the same 4-kilo bag to school. I attended the same boring chemistry and physics lectures. I came back home to have the same daal-roti. And ended the day doing the same math homework.

Was it any different for my mom? Not with her nine-to-five office routine and household chores. She even wondered aloud while watching TV one day, “What’s all the fuss about?”

And really, what is it about this one day that is so special for you and me? Is it that the male species puts a pause on violating women on this particular day? Is it that women are spared obnoxious looks or comments while crossing streets? Do men stop touching us without our consent in crowded buses and trains? Are we given the dignity we have a right to at our workplace or our homes? Are we taken seriously, even if for a day?

Or really is it just a symbolic day to continue the fight that was started a century ago?

And what happens the morning after? You browse through your newspaper and find coverage on demonstrations for women’s rights, inaugurations of women’s exhibitions, celebration of the spirit of being a woman! And right beside these extensively glorified news items there’s a small nondescript column – 16-year-old gang raped in Satoha district.

Seven years hence television channels continue to celebrate the ongoing struggle of women in every corner of the world. I feel sad.

Who needs a reason?

I, for one, do not need a day to make me feel special. I know I am.

I do not want to be treated like a queen for a mere 24 hours. I rule my world every day and I do it with pride.

I do not demand respect at work or at home as an excuse on 8th March. I deserve it each day.

I do not want equality for I am not competing. I know I am superior. And this I say on the basis of my stronger genetic make up.

I do not want any honors bestowed upon me to mark an occasion. I am a woman – and that’s honor enough.

Maybe we could just do away with International Women’s Day and institute an International Men’s Day. Father’s Day sure has its contenders but what about a day that recognizes men, regardless of their paternal status? I wonder why we don’t have one date set aside to celebrate the spirit of “manhood”? Or is it that men can be celebrated only when they become fathers?

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Gift for your baby girl: a breastfeeding doll

Yesterday, a friend forwarded a Huffington Post slideshow of the seven most inappropriate toys for children.

I was appalled, needless to say, but one that had me going “No way!” at the top of my lungs was this particular product: The Bebé Glotón breastfeeding doll.

Who in their right minds would buy a four-year-old girl a toy that teaches her to breastfeed??????? It’s absolutely atrocious!

And wait till you hear the tagline: “Because you shouldn’t have to wait until you have breasts before you start breastfeeding your baby!”

Really?

And just as soon as you develop those mammary glands, go ahead — have a baby. So what if you’re a teenager? You already know how to breastfeed if nothing else!

Is that what we want to teach our little girls? Have babies, breastfeed them and fulfill your mission on earth!!!??!!

I don’t understand how or why the manufacturers can get away with something like this.

Growing up, I never played with utensils or Barbie dolls — instead I got board games and Lego building blocks, but I saw the gender stereotyping where other girls my age would play a nurse or housewife and the boys would play doctors or engineers.

But this takes it to whole new level of ridiculous!

I don’t know if it’s advertised to be an “educational” toy but even if it is, isn’t four years a bit too young to be focusing on having kids and what your yet-to-be-developed breasts can biologically do? And it assumes that the little girl will grow up and want kids! And then breastfeed them!

What kind of education is that?

According to the comments in this San Francisco Chronicle report, these dolls were a huge success with sales hitting the roof and the supplies going out-of-stock within a month.

I really don’t see how this is appropriate, especially for this target age group. Do you?

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Outrage?

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