I wanted to share this poem for long. I’ve kept myself from commenting or elaborating on my poems but i feel it was needed this time. It would certainly help you appreciate(or criticize) it better, but more than that i wanted to share about the most abhorrent of practices that has gone unnoticed.

Fighting female foeticide is a buzz in many social and feminist circles, government has been taking measures to stabilize the skewed male female ratio by spreading awareness in many parts of our country, particularly in north India. There might be a long way to go before people no more yearn for male children over female and understand its consequences but till then the ways to get rid of a girl child are high on their mind.

Today when contraception, sex detection, abortion are some of the many ways by which people get rid of the “unwanted child”, usually a girl child, wonder what people did in the days when such a technology was inaccessible. They buried their infant children( in matkas, urns) to death. This practice was common in north Indian villages.

The speaker in the poem is a girl child who was buried to death. She remembers and narrates her story.

Let me grow in your backyard, mother!

I was born a thought
with your birth, mother!
when the nurse said
“it’s a girl” she also meant
so will there be another.

In your teens
when you bled first
u thought of me
didn’t you mother?

I can count my life
on fingers-
you kept me young
for half your life.
your nineteen years
was my one day.

I grew each day
in your thoughts.
i was a big girl
when dad begot.

You made me learn
all tables
the nursery rhymes
oh! how we played

How well you read to me-
the Ramayana, the Gita
in your pastime.

How you protected me
from the mortal blows
they had come to kill me
they asked you to abort.

“Mother! they have discovered us
and see! so late
now in my youth.”

I remember the pain
through which i came
you parted me from you
but for what mother?
may i now ask you?

They took me away
and pushed me into
another womb
of concrete.

They had put me in
and pulled the lid
they dug your backyard
and slipped me in.

I stayed there
for how long?
i needed no water
food or your song.

The concrete stomach
pushed me out
like you mother
it broke into pieces.

I was growing mother!
in the pool of your tears.

oh! how again
you nourished me
with your kalshiya water

now again in your arms
as you pluck me
for offerings.

The odor of your body
your starched cotton odhni
the clinker of your bangles
the shell of your palm
-keep me mother in your care-

You decorate me
-your daughter-
to decorate your gods
-the gods of sons-.

Now you put me in water
at your centre table
now you throw me away
with the vase water.

Would you let me grow again
in your memory
in your backyard mother?

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

Read a short story on a similar theme here>>