Monthly Archives: May 2016

K. Sharifa’s Poems

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K Sharifa : K Sharifa was born in Gulbarga in Karnataka and works as a Senior Auditor in Bangalore. A poet, a literary critic and a feminist writer, she has been a part of women’s and human rights movements. She has more than seventeen books and has received several awards for her works.

Poems of K Sharifa

 Kannada original:  K Sharifa

English translation: Kamalakar Bhat

(http://www.museindia.com/regularcontent.asp?issid=67&id=6565)

Be a Woman, Once, O Lord!

It is rancid kitchens for us.

It is slimy postnatal rooms for us.

No chance for throwing tantrums.

O Lord, shouldn’t you once visit

the sunless cells that is our lot?

 

My son

who went to the town

died in a police encounter;

My husband

who went to war

came back as bloody rags;

And my daughter,

in unbearable shame,

hanged herself after being raped;

To know the depths of my pain,

O Lord, shouldn’t you be born a woman once?

 

If I step out to earn a meager meal

unseen holy hands push me behind the curtains

training the guns on me;

I shudder at the slightest sound,

go pale, become breathless, miss a heartbeat;

I am totally lost;

How shall I live, O lord?

 

To know my indescribable pain,

to know what it is,

O Lord, shouldn’t you become a woman once?

The man who has the world’s contract in his hands

has declared a war at the borders;

How shall I describe the nature of my pain,

my anxious moments;

So, shouldn’t you become a woman once?

**

 

Behind the Veil

 On either side of the two stately minars of the darga

rows and rows of shacks.

Sackcloth curtains hanging at the door —

no colours, no frills, just the gray sackcloth —

speak of her life’s colours.

On feast days, Ma would drape the doors

with embroidered curtains, colourful and adorned

with many-hued beads at the edges.

I too had crocheted pretty curtains

with threads of many shades.

How would I know

one day the same curtains

would be the veil to keep my face hidden?

 

The first time I wore the veil

the heat irritated me till I felt dizzy

and, instinctively I had thrown it away.

My relatives prevailed upon me:

this is the sacred dress of our faith, they said;

God won’t like it otherwise.

And they pushed me behind the veil.

When the veil’s net covered my eyes

the whole world appeared dark.

Even my schoolmate Seeta

found me a stranger.

I felt all my companions falling away from me.

The veil had built a fence around me.

 

Under the protective gaze, dreams became

burnt walls blackening the universe.

In summer heat, I was drenched in sweat and felt stifled.

My face shrouded

inside the veil, I became only flesh.

**

 

Overhanging Swords of Talaak

 

The walls are like in a fort

built with massive stone slabs,

beyond the walls the free pigeon,

within the walls is my caged life

 

Life trots on rocky rough road

while I am the cool flow from the Himalayas

He is like the seething geysers

I have no firm foundation

in the dilapidated corners

 

With three wives and eyeing a fourth

If I even look out the window out of boredom

He screams at me, scared:

“Where is my hookah, Begum?

Are you nuts? Drop the curtains.”

Beware, don’t let your eyes wander

Don’t forget the overhanging sword of Talaak!

 

No milky moonlight for me

No spring ceremony

From within the prohibitive walls

Of the hopeless cage.

 

When the prisoner shakes off and asks

“Don’t’ frighten me with the sword of talaak”.

 

The stones of the walls begin to crumble

A new power in my tired hands

Breaking the fetters, my question rises up:

“It is I you are born of

Don’t frighten me with the sword of talaak

You are but an infant in my lap.

 

**

Herstory

 

Upon the civilizations

She built lovingly

Appears your cruel imprint

 

Upon the cultures

She molded

Why not let her own imprint?

Why not let her erect her own mansions?

Why not let her reveal the dawn of a new day?

 

 

No more may her images

Peep through his-tory

Let her sing a new psalm

Let her fashion herstory

 

Since ages she has been

your companion

always walking beside you

How can your history be

Complete without her?

 

Therefore,

Put an end to your

his-stories accommodating her

 

Let the hands that write be hers

The mind that thinks be hers

And the heart that feels be hers

As she creates her own story

**