Reality Of Married Indian Women Conditioned To Ask Permission Just To Live Their Lives…

Women are so conditioned to not feel as though they own their own things, home, kitchen,... life - that the default is often a seeking of permission. 

Women are so conditioned to not feel as though they own their own things, home, kitchen,… life – that the default is often a seeking of permission. 

Trigger warning: This post contains depiction of normalised violence against women, and may be triggering for survivors.

The guilt hisses
when from my own kitchen
I give myself an extra serving of rice.
for whom my apology, or from whom permission?
the baby that I can’t conceive because I’m too fat? (or so I’ve been told, repeatedly)
my body, that has never loved me back?
every indigestible ‘don’t’ and ‘no,’ an unsealing crack.

at the store, I find a lipstick like,
look at the price tag and put it back.
for now, it’s his money, not mine,
that makes my world go round
and I hate to ask, even when I know he’ll say yes.
no one quite understands why,
not even I.
I loathe everything about this “choice.”

I find I must take a deep breath,
every time I sit to write.
I know my words will offend
but who? and when? and why? and how?
each question, a bullet, aimed at me.
oftentimes, I simply am not brave enough.
better women than me have died
quite literally, for daring to speak out,
so fear colours the ink
in which my words are wrought .

the neckline on the dress I love
is a little too low,
a safety pin comes to the rescue, but
I flinch at my own hypocrisy.
I wonder why their eyes matter
more than me.
what I wear and how I wear it
will speak louder than my poetry.
when the anger surfaces, I quell it with practicality.

it exhausts me,
being the good girl.
it is hard work, finding the loopholes
that allow my little “badness.”
I can’t just be fallible, you see,
it’s not just about me.
every little fault, hung out to dry,
is a judgement on all my sisters.
because it’s always “all women.”

So then I perform this sleight of hand.
the docile goddess is but a disguise,
a misdirection, and meanwhile
it is the rebel girls that my secret hand feeds.
every day i water that seed,
so a day will come when my daughters won’t need
to ask, “may I?”

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Author’s Note: This poem was written in response to a prompt, “Why do womxn take permission?” shared in the Facebook writing group, Womxn Of Political Writing. The prompt made me think of the many ways in which I do take permission. Most of the time, I seem to need my own permission –because conditioning means that even when I theoretically know that I can and must do what makes me happy, guilt, shame or fear still arise.

It was this that I wrote about then.

Image source: shutterstock

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