Why Do I Need An Escort? An Angry, Unapologetic Feminist Poet Asks!

Urvashi Bundel's Unapologetically Feminist, deal with the issues ranging from gender, displacement, refugees, and environment.

Transience is what one experiences when one reads through the collection of poems written by Urvashi Bundel. Titled Unapologetically Feminist, the poems deal with issues ranging from gender, displacement, refugees, and environment.

Having spent a significant number of years working and studying in the field of human rights, her work led her to travel across countries and continents.

Unapologetically Feminist by Urvashi Bundel

Bundel’s collection of poems is at times an outburst of anguish against the injustices of the world, and at other times innocent musings about nature – both human and animal. At several moments it is experiential as they capture emotions, feelings and thoughts as she experiences places, situation and relationships.

As the book ebbs and flows, one gets the impression of being accompanying a traveller. The reader being completely in communion with the thought as she observes not only the oppression, discrimination, and misogyny with a sense of irony and innocence.

While travel is a common thread in the collection, the central theme of the book is gender. Bundel brings out the harsh realities of a woman’s existence in cities and countries all over the world.

In a Mutilated Mutiny, she writes,

It is tough to think in her shoes\Also because she has none.

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Haunted by the ghost of the remains\and shoddy shrubs in the background,

She recedes into the jungle\the girl must eat\and the hyenas too.

In the fight to gather firewood\she returns burnt again from the bushes\This time with the title of a witch.

The poem alludes to the several territories occupied by women and young girls; that of poverty, conflict, violence and discrimination in which they struggle to survive and fend for others.

Urvashi, describes the despondency of women who are victims of conflict as something she encounters as part of her routine work as a humanitarian worker.

How my week ended on a Tuesday

It’s just that there is so much sin\Laden deftly in every crevice of this week\That my week seems to be over already.\

As I recorded how a brother raped his sister-\Line by line linen by linen\ The goblet of blood brimmed with fire\overflowing\ the nerve so stained.

Her poems are Cleopatra Must Have Felt Lonely, is experiential. Writing as a young foreign woman in Cairo, it describes on one hand the decadence of Cairo, while on the other goes on to her thoughts as a woman as she negotiates the Cairo cityscape. Finding herself an object of male attention at several moments, she has many direct questions.

Cleopatra Must Have Felt Lonely

Why do I need an escort\Why do I need an escort on a wheelchair?

Why do I need paparazzi?\Why do I need paparazzi with no cameras?

Ancient Alexandria wasn’t like this\Mark Anthony must have had it easy and Cleopatra must have felt lonely.

Or the smooth sense of irony in Turtles and Women, which is an equally sharp statement on the position of women in certain cultures. Urvashi doesn’t hold herself back from making a bold statement about the status of women in the world, or in a certain world.

In Born a Debt, she writes

When you are born a woman\a woman in the third world

A woman in this world\A woman with light nationality

A woman with bold personality\A woman with no work\

A woman with so much turf\A woman too divine\

An atheist too beguiling\

A woman with no pen\A woman with no pen

A woman who cannot step out\A woman who cannot step up.

Your existence is impugned \Each day\By uncles and aunts

By doctors and teachers\By guards and fiends\

By home and state\By life and its minions.

You are a woman born a debt\

And to some, an asset in disguise!

Blunt honesty overtakes in her writing in her next poem.

The Girl Who Reads

Because a girl who reads\is aware

That life is not a Disneyland\Filled with charms and magic  

She rightly understands\

That the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointments.

Because a girl who reads\Comprehends the difference

Between a moment of anger and abuse\

And the habits of bitter traditions\

Because a girl who reads\Knows the importance of a plot

Unapologetically Feminist is food for the feminist mind that riles against the daily injustices and aggressions that women have to face. An essential read for the angry young women of today.

Image source: From poet’s website Urvashi Bundel: Poetry Writing, via Canva Pro 

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