Under the Veil


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.


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