Women Power Through Words (And Verse)

A session on Narishakti at the recent Bangalore Lit Fest had two poets express their anguish and anger about the expectations society places on women


Will a woman ever find herself truly 'free'?

By Anjali and Rishika Kashyap

I wrap myself in five yards of respectability and bask in my own glory

But I don’t remember if I begged for this with folded hands

Or has it been roughly thrust upon me?...

These were the opening lines of a powerful poem in Oriya titled 'My Sari' by Paramita Satpathy, an income tax officer by profession and a writer by passion. On day two of the Lit Fest, Satpathy and fellow poet Sanjukta Dasgupta defined Narishakthi through their work.

For instance, Satpathy's poem talks of the sari being a symbol of respectability; it even becomes a cloak for the unasked-for expectations heaped upon women. The poet says society expects a woman to behave in a particular manner and do everything a certain way. But society also questions her if she dares to make her own choices. Which is why, the poet says she wants to shred that sari and hand those pieces to women who are ignored by society -- a rag picker, a woman burned by her inlaws over dowry, a rape survivor and a barmaid. The poet hopes such women will benefit from the respectability of her sari. But she ends up in despair for the next morning, she finds:

In the morning, I found all the pieces back

In a conspiracy to cover me again...

Sanjukta Dasgupta, on her part, also read out a poem titled 'The Pillion Rider’. Her work talks about the powerlessness of women and depicts how women are treated in their own homes, how they are used and abused. The poet is angered by the fact that women are still considered inferior to men and treated like objects to be owned. In this poem, Dasgupta also expresses her anguish about why women are never the driver or the rider; never trusted to direct, but rather, always expected to be the pillion rider.

No one taught me driving

No one gave me a bike.

They said he has a bike

So what’s your problem, you silly wife?

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