girls who refuse to die

Girls Who Refuse to Die

It’s not about those voiceless victims of patrimony who were throttled before they could utter a sound It’s about those who are treated as trophies   wrapped in silks, dripping with diamonds

It’s not about those who get flushed out surreptitiously

as a scarlet blob between thighs 

Neither is it about those who are scraped out of wombs

With rusty tools of quacks in back alley 

Nor those who are buried alive 

Or abandoned on dumpsters to be eaten by wild dogs

It’s about those who make it into the world midst 

middle class moral compunctions 

no less despised or resented 

 

Guilt is not only for evildoers

It’s also the gift of our collective consciousness to the girls

who turn a deaf ear to laments that follow their birth

and refuse to die.

It finds roots in the softest hearts and feeds on affection

for disgruntled progenitrix, unfair tutelage

sucking out the last dregs of self-love 

until they are housebroken to be good girls

 for the rest of their lives

 

A good girl is the one who can never do enough 

or be enough to assuage the trauma she caused

by simply being born 

So she carries a thousand deaths beneath her tongue

and swallows one every time she has to choose

between being happy and being good

yet falls short every single time 

 

It’s not about those missing girls

 who turned into statistics in census registers

It’s about those who lead invisible lives

persona non grata in homes they dare not call their own

stuck within the gilded frames of happy family portraits

entirely dispensable if the honour of the clan so demands

sacrificial lambs to pander the fragile male egos 

of those who think they own them

 

It’s not about those voiceless victims of patrimony

who were throttled before they could utter a sound

It’s about those who are treated as trophies  

wrapped in silks, dripping with diamonds

They do just fine as long as they know

when to smile coyly and when to retreat into shadows

 God forbid if they ever acquire

 a mind of their own or sprout a tongue

 

It’s about those who break through the cracks of concrete

 like daisies on a busy sidewalk and court whirlwinds

 the girls who refuse to die

 

Some turn into fire-spitters even if it singes their own feathers

 

Some turn into rainbows keepers refusing to be confined

within drab walls of conventions

 

Some turn into ocean cuddlers, spreading their arms wide

 to embrace their destiny and all those who share it

 

Some turn into sword swallowers, gutting the barbed jibes 

in the pit of their stomach

 

Some turn into fragrance detectors, sniffing out 

the sore hearts to heal them as they heal themselves

 

Some turn into fake family fishers, smiling and posing 

For gilded frames as their innards melt 

Some turn into pecan pickers, harvesting, shelling, husking

and ginning their lives to make some sense of it

 

Some turn into silver unicorns, chasing elusive 

cotton candy clouds into the twilight of life

 

Some turn into everyday goddesses, balancing domesticity

with dream catchers and hang on to the silver lining

 

They survive, somehow, the girls who refuse to die

to maintain the semblance of normalcy 

So that, we continue to take pride in the heritage

that persecutes them 

systematically

 

 

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Nalini Priyadarshni

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