And then, they hit me, just below the belt,
And shoved me to a corner to preach to me
With their habitual sermons of sanctity,
Just when I was clasping the clay molds
To turn them into spitting images of myself,
My everyday girlfriends, sisters, dainty rivers prancing
and preening around fire-lit open courtyards.
And then, they sucked the lilting rhythms of a female fetus
Out of my hungering womb, and left me to die every day
With the barren shrieks of a hopeless nothing,
My femaleness, a tough, bottomless pit
which they entered again, and again, and again,
tirelessly, until a male offspring was borne.
……Did my river bleed when my trident perforated
demon skins? I ran, and ran, and ran
Like a beast, chased, driven away,
Until the unscathed horizon took me in.
Who is it that chases me still? The rough undone
of voyeur fists and limbs? All I have sought for
Is a man sheltering my hidden pores,
A chapati between my hungry teeth, my chapped lips.
…….And then, they smothered me dead, because as Draupadi,
My fiery red cajoled them into hostility. As Sita,
My chastity made them push their boundaries.
As Kunti, the unblemished terrains of my want
enticed them to father my legendary sons.
As the black, ‘dalit’ girl, the earth and water of my being
was a living proof of profanity, a sacrilege
that they sanctified by feasting on the tar of my flesh.
And then, you who crushed and torn my silky petals,
You who made me sing lust-ridden songs,
You who taught our mothers to kill us in the womb,
To mourn our birth while their cherished sons blossom
in their milky warmth, you who made us
The sacrificing Sati and Behula, brimming with fortitude,
You who sold our flesh for six pence, will sit at my feet,
Prostrate, when I am the naked, elemental Kali,
at my apocalyptic best. And then, when I adorn my forehead
with the toxic blood of generations, my scarlet tongue,
spread out, larger than life, glitters, gleams with peril.
Let me be the savage cry, the dark, scraped beast
Before you call me the Goddess and the whore, yet again.
Lopa Banerjee is an author/editor and translator based in Dallas, Texas. Her recent publication is the award-winning nonfiction novel ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’.
Cover Photo: i144.photobucket.com