Yamini Parashar is pursuing her BA from Delhi university. She likes to write poems and observe things and is concerned with social issues. She identifies herself as a feminist and sees herself as a clinical psychologist in a few years. She’s been a part of a few poetry programmes held in her city.
Under the Veil
Under the veil was a woman
Delusion made her sight weak.
She began fearing men
Learning patriarchy in its many forms.
Head down, she has to look with shying gaze
She used to play on the barren streets
Now became a bride
And nowhere she got to see
Bride and daughter as given the same care.
Has to cook in the smoke of the chullah
The vision blurred from inside the veil.
What she wanted was nothing much
All that happened they believed as fate
Said, “We are women, we have to live this way
We want our bride to be the same, passive,
Juggling work always and veiling…
Can’t breathe inside the veil
Can’t see the world outside.
But veiling is my honour
Otherwise the gaze of any men could threaten me
It is my duty to protect my honour
Because a man’s dirty gaze is normal
But my liberation is not.”
Asking women to veil themselves
They say, “It is a shame women should have
And shame and honour is only for women.”
And when asked should men also veil themselves?
The women said, “They are men. Why do they need to hide their face?
Privilege is their birth right.
Facing consequences only for their liberation
From the suffocation they say only women have
It is a curtain that sets them apart from the world
Secluded in every form from the world.
They said veiling protects our dignity and honour.
But my honour does not lie in my body
You consider me pure if a predator has not seen me with a dirty gaze
Because a woman’s worth is dependent on how desirable a man finds her.
Living under the curtain, subjugated in every aspect
Men say, ‘It is protection!’
By veiling us, making sure that man finds somebody else to turn his dirty gaze and misdemeanours to.”
Veiling her to make sure that their voices are silenced;
To become passive’
To constrict women to domestic spheres and reproductive roles
Segregating women and telling them they are already weak,
That they need men’s backs to stand straight
Leaving their education and freedom
To live in the precincts of the home
“Perpetuating the differences and telling me that I’m weak
Made me weaker, by telling me to blame myself.
Virtuous conduct is all my duty.
Not falling as a predator’s prey is my responsibility.”
Women are harassed under the ghoonghat too
Women are beaten who resisted the purdah
Victimised by acid attacks for not being passive
“I’m looking through the vision of the veil
Suffocating and blurred it is
To live like a dead soul
With it covering all my skin
So I don’t fall into the predator’s eyes.
Hiding my skin is my honour.
Gazing at the ground
So I’m considered passive.
Can’t talk loud when the men of house are around.
Kitchen is the precinct of my life.
To be good mothers and wives
Who have obeyed since ages
Shattering the dreams that I hope to see
Telling women that you have to only aspire for marriage
I won’t bring disgrace to you
All I want is to be set free.”
Opinions expressed are of the writer.