Lessons for the Damsel by Geetanjali Dhalia

Updated: Sep 3


Art by Serge Marshennikov

I was raised to be selfless and loving

But my first learning wasn’t without an ‘I’ in the alphabet

I wonder how over the years,

The world changed so much,

That my first lessons have suddenly reversed.

I

Rani and Razia could have learnt to tolerate

Shakespeare was introduced to me before Sylvia & Austen

But dignity has two ‘I’s

For how long can it wait?

Gradually this realization came.

II

I knew biology had immense power

The fittest would survive and species would evolve

But it weighed down mathematics too.

Equality is equal such that-

Lesser my expression,

The more value I add to myself

And if fueled by acceptance,

The society would react with sympathy,

Call it bravery

But nobody told me this idea smelt of rotten eggs.

III

Then in the lab of reality

On the scales of gaze

They performed a dangerous experiment.

As they trimmed the length of my skirt,

Dragged the neckline lower

And shortened the sleeves,

The value of my chastity,

Exponentially decreased.

IV

I was made to learn my rights very well.

Freedom to speak, equality…

But then came the Penal Code

With a Chapter on Offences against Women,

At once my rights felt disrobed

They couldn’t meet eyes with me in the reflection of vulnerability.

V

Extra curriculum had detailed sessions

On extensive debate and discussions.

I was told I aced Public Speaking

But silence became my language

“Shhhhhh.. You’re a woman”

“Nobody’s listening”.

VI

At 18 when they heard an adult

With a loud voice of dissent

I was promoted to a revolutionary.

This murderer of beliefs and

Beholder of reason,

Was charged of gender- treason.

Stripped off my armor of strength

Broke my weapon- my pen

And pressed me into the pages

Of The Forbidden Book

For them I was the one who was doomed

But here I am

Signing off with an Italicized HENCE PROVED!

Read Geetanjali's writing on her blog here.