Monday, February 02, 2009

Lullaby to a girl child!

Don’t jump or run
What if you hurt yourself there?

Don’t bawl
Stifle the pain. Let the tears flow artistically down your cheeks.

Don’t walk so tall and confident.

Look down
at the ground as you walk.

Don’t stare back
Instead lower your eyelids, shyly.

Pinch your cheek
Practise your blush for the compliments to come.

Never laugh out loud.

Your voice. It should never be heard

Go deaf
Pretend you haven’t heard all that you do.

Hold your tongue
At any cost, never speak your mind.

Blank your mind
Don’t have any thoughts, opinions or ideas.

Bottle up
Your desires; you are his property and his slave.

your bosom, don’t jut it out, and don’t sway your hips

Close up
Sit demure. Don’t spread your legs.

Open up.
Be the vamp when he so desires.

Your intelligence and your rebellion and your revulsion.

Your orgasm

You get a baby boy the first time.

Your very identity to a stereotype

Yes dear, you would be just fine, you would be just fine,
Safe from the taliban, safe from the sena,
safe from the men that would be born
from our very wombs.

------------------ Srividya Srinivasan, Feb 2nd - 2009


Laksh said...

Its disturbing illaiya? Just to hear it being said out loud makes me uncomfortable. As much as I feel strongly about it, I still have problems expressing it as boldly.

Aparna said...

I have never done any of these listed. Now I know why I am where I am I guess!!

Anonymous said...

Very inspired.
Maybe if we all just stopped giving birth and ask all the men in the world to go fuck themselves, we'll be satisfied.
It makes my blood boil. Men and their fucked up religion. One day it will all burn.

myenglishpage said...

The anon post is the opinion of Ranjitha Janardhan

Vidya said...

Nice one Vidhu. Cuts through the crap crisply.
Some of us never followed any of this and would never sing this lullaby to a girl child. But I wonder if it was more a choice than a chance. What if I was a woman in remote rural Afghanistan or even some place with a girl child.Perhaps this would be the lullaby I would be singing. It makes me incredibly sad that even being able to react to things is a privelege.

Srividya Srinivasan said...

No Sj. Most of these are what my mom has pushed into me or tried to too wanting things safe. It doesn't need a remote afganisthan or africa for this lullaby. You escaped more by chance!

Umashankari said...

Looking at it critically, as a mother of a near adult, I can now realize that I probably said a few of these things to my daughter.But I can now understand why my mother feared for my safety. I think we want to spare our children pain,and we would like them to learn without suffering, but I suppose that can never happen.... our daughters have to live out their lives, and we canonly stand by them through it all...

roop said...

srividya, laksh directed me here. i've read this poem, re-read it and read it again 10 times more. i have no words to say how much thankful i am to u for writing this. these are thoughts that all of us grow up with but never can list 'em coherently as you did. i am bowled over. literally. if u allow, can i please use this on my blog? of course by crediting u.

The Soul Doctor said...

Girls are a Girl's biggest enemy.

Unfortunate, but true.

Dont you all have a choice in life?

If you think you are all so badly off, please empower others by showing the right way. This piece of writing is nothing but hammering an exception on to someone's head just because you happen to that exception.

This writing is nothing but a surrogatly proselytizing a non existent generalization.

For once, do you, the persecuted lot, understand that there is something called the choice between the stimulus and your response//?

You have a choice not to fake orgasm or not to succumb?


This world will be a better place.

roop said...

Soul Doctor

You're completely missing the point the poem makes and going on a defensive for reasons I can't comprehend. The point that the poem makes is that women who go through this DON'T have a choice and they have to FIGHT for that choice.

You ask:
"Dont you all have a choice in life?"

Well, let me tell you something that's seemingly news to you, NO. No, not all of us have a choice in life. I grew up in a very traditional Indian Punjabi family and I can tell you that I didn't have very many choices. I was hit every time I stepped out of cultural bounds as prescribed by the male seniors of the family. And my family is one of the most progressive and educated families in India. Women are still being held back! IT happens every day and it happens often.

It's insulting for a man to come and say that 'CHOOSE MATE'. Well, what else are we asking for then? We are asking for the FREEDOM to CHOOSE ! because we don't have it! We get beat, blackmailed, threatened, put down, shamed if we attempt to choose for ourselves.


That's such an idealist and a vague statement to make. Need of the day is not that but it is to REALIZE that WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO HAVE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE AND TO SNATCH IT IF WE ARE NOT GETTING IT BY FAIR MEANS.

This poem works as a wake-up call for many (over 90% women) who accept life as is and don't bother fighting for their freedom of choice because it's too much work. It's for them to realize that there is more to life than walking with their eyes down, and legs tightly shut. It's for them to realize that when mommy told them to speak in a soft voice, mommy was wrong. All that conditioning that happened to us, it was WRONG! Instead we should demand our freedom of choice and exercise it.

Your argument is misplaced, kind sir, with all due respect.


Srividya Srinivasan said...

@Soul doctor - Even if women exercise a small right of choice of say male infanticide, where would the men be? The anger from the lullaby drove the thought for the other narrative. What if everwhere it became real?


The Soul Doctor said...


I am sorry to see your helplessness, and your experience in growing up within your circumstances.

There is a very thin line that divides Idealism and Reality. For whatever you think that is beyond you perceived capabilities, it becomes an ideal proposition for your.

To begin with, I am NOT denying that such a state of affairs exists. I completely agree that women have a miserable plight with all those constraints. In fact, as a male member, I would want to see women coming out and pubbing, living a free life....atleast it will make my life easier to find a partner to take into pubs..(men stags are not allowed...what a SEVERE state of discrimination...Duh!!)


The point I am trying to drive in this. At the end of the day, you ALL have a CHOICE. You dont exercise a choice because you are AFRAID of the consequences. You agree to live with less freedom because you are afraid of getting beaten up, overpowered, or emotionally ostracized within your group;

FOR ONCE, try not taking it lying down. try not to blame others for your plight. try to take responsibility for your life. Try to TAKE that freedom that you are all demanding. I am not giving the moral sanction to men to persecute you. You are the sole gaurdian of your freedom. You need not

HAVE YOU FOR ONCE CONSIDERED WALKING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE FOR NOT ALLOWING YOU TO BE "FREE"? and if NO, why not? I am sure, you will realise you were afraid of making that choice.....if you are so concerned about your freedom, go and fight......and make things happen on dont need to do it for other girls......first fight for your own self.

If family indeed matters to you, there are things that you as a child cannot do reform things that have crystallised over thousand years. So be practical, and when you are in the decision making chair, then be considerate to your daughters concern for freedom. That is the only way ahead.

Writing such stupid poems can only solidify your craving for self sympathy......oh god..i am suffering...please have concern about me....

Words are powerful tools. If I were you, I will write poems that empowers, invigorates, motivates, fires up, pushes hard, and makes me get up and ACT.....AND convey the very same message you are trying to convey in the poem....

The choice of words in the poem and the theme is so gloomy that any women reader who actually suffers persecution actually gets reasons enough to resign to the fact that the world infact is entirely like this, and there is no world ahead, and the thing is so negative....

Writing is an can empower.........and fire the imagination of a thousand mind. A collection of words cannot become a poem. A theme poorly my verdict.

I rest my case.

La Vida Loca said...

Great one gurl! Had tears in my eyes.

Soul Doctor- I do see your point and your good intentions, but have you grown up w/ girl siblings? Seen through their pain? Maybe you have. Maybe not.
After a life time of being told that we are unwanted/burden/being pinched, groped, poked, touched, leched at, leered at, sung to/threatened to bear a boy child/have forced sex selected abortions/have sex selected fetus implanted just dont want to fight, dont want to be seen. That's why this poem hits the mark.
Yes some ppl leave, some fight, some raise kids to think differently. Not all unfortunately. Brutal truths like this makes us women understand that we are not alone and want to speak up. And this is a start.

WSW said...

Came from Roops site...awesome work!Chillingly beautiful!

Arnav said...

very touching.. but sadly its the fact !!!!

have written something on similar grounds..

couldn't agree with u more..

Have written something on similar grounds ...

Prasoon Joshi said...

Its not about women being beaten in pubs alone or about men killing their wives for dowry, its much more deeper than that. Its about creating a norm and then breaking it ... there would be babies crying and women wailing (and men sobbing behind a closet) wherever a norm would be broken. What we need is a revolution which runs in our blood for generations to come, something which strikes a balance between the individual and the society.
Unlike a few others I don't feel 'inspired' or 'sad', I just feel angry and disappointed to the core.
My blog carried a few articles about the state of women in various parts of the world (on the occasion of International women's day), things are just too crazy right now. I just wish that all the people of this world are blessed with patience.

Kislay said...

Very very heart-rending and poignant . This should go down the Bible of Feminism , if there is one .

Indian Home Maker said...

very well said. And strongly too.
Now we should also right the exact opposite of this, of what happens when a girl does not follow this ...

Rahul said...

hmmm.. it's the sad reality, unfortunately of our times as well.. and such Lullaby only helps create a lull before the storm

Arundhati said...

Belonging to a newer generation, my mom never said these things to me. But they were implicit in everything else she told me. And I'm ok with it. At the end of the day, I don't want to abused. Prevention you see. Very well-written.

Soul Doctor-- You say, Fight, Stand -up , big words you use fella, bloody easily said than done.