This is a poem which, keeping in mind the present circumstances of the society, really touched my heart. I hope the same happens to you too. Special thanks to Jayshree Sethuraman for giving us this opportunity and permission to publish this piece of hers so that our readers can get a taste of it too. I hope this collaboration of ours, which starts with this poem, continues to grow stronger in the future. Jayshree, thank you once again from the bottom of my heart.
Through the mists of time and from the ruins of history
echo the faint voices
Of the maidens of mythology
like sparks from the dying embers of a fire
Crackling one after the other.
Driven by lust
for the most beautiful of all women
radiant as the moonshine of the moon
Lord Indra, the ruler of the heavens
stalked her for her very sight made him swoon
and made love to her wildly in the dark of the night
pretending to be her husband.
The only witnesses the fireflies shining bright..
Sage Gautam cursed his wife for being a wanton woman
and transformed her into a stone.
Deceived by one man,
repudiated by another
raped and rejected for being raped
she was transfixed to a spot, lifeless
And invisible to all creatures.
Me too, wept Ahalya.
The evil ten-headed Ravana
known for his roving eye(s)
besotted by a beauty
begged her for food
disguised as an old hermit.
He caught hold of her hand,
grabbed her by her braids
and over the lakshman rekha
dragged the screaming woman into his flying chariot
against her will.
Ram her Lord rescued her
but a trial by fire she endured
to prove her chastity
and emerged unsinged.
But yet he who is Purushottam, the best of men
abandoned his pregnant wife , the Pativrata, the best of women
on the complaint of a washerman
for he had to listen to his subjects
But wasn’t his wife his subject too?
The first single mother of the nation
raised her children in isolation.
And the daughter of the earth
Returned to the womb of her mother.
Me too, cried Sita.
Yajnaseni born of fire
feisty like thunder and fiery like lightning
a dusky lotus-eyed belle with long curly tresses
staked by her own husband in a game of dice.
Dharmaputra, where was your dharma?
Called a whore by Karna the benevolent,
dragged into court
by her cascading raven hair
in a blood-stained garment
for she was in that time of the month
and disrobed and humiliated
by the vile Dushashana.
Five husbands and not one rose to protect the young woman
from the vastraharan
Five mighty warriors
hung their heads in shame
And then in the sixth decade of her life
By Keechak she was molested again
and her husbands were silent yet again,
they were still the same.
Me too, wailed Draupadi.
By the banks of the Yamuna
Krishna, the stealer of hearts stole the clothes
of innocent nubile maidens
bathing in the river
to the strains of his flute.
And climbed a kadam tree
to spread them on its branches.
The pubescent girls emerged out naked from the river
and implored him to return their clothes.
Shivering and shy,
one hand covering the breasts
and the other placed between the thighs.
The playful Kanha reprimanded them for
bathing naked, “Raise your hands over your heads
if you want your clothes back”, he said,
and come fetch them alone
one by one.
And so they exposed their bodies
every nook and cranny
to the lustful gaze
of the voyeur.
Oh, but they said he was just a boy
a mischievous little prankster.
Me too, says Radhika
Me too, sighs Lalita
Me too, sobs Chandravalli
Me too, shrieks Indulekha
And one by one all the gopis scream out “Me too”.
The immovable earth heaved
Still stones moved
Dry rivers flowed
Dying fires raged
And all the voices
The voice of patriarchy
Reached a deafening pitch
And shouted their
Me too. #MeToo
~ Jayshree Sethuraman