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

Posted: July 24, 2020

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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?”

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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