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Eve, Oh Eve



I wrote Happy Marriage and Eve,Oh Eve in the late 80′s, Noorjahan in the beginning of 90′s and You go girl in 2005. Original poems were written in Bengali. These are just poor translation.

HAPPY MARRIAGE

My life,
like a sandbar, has been taken over by a monster of a man.
He wants my body under his control
so that if he wishes he can spit in my face,
slap me on the cheek
and pinch my rear.
So that if he wishes he can rob me of my clothes
and take the naked beauty in his grip.
So that if he wishes he can pull out my eyes,
so that if he wishes he can chain my feet,
if he wishes, he can, with no qualms whatsoever,
use a whip on me,
if he wishes he can chop of my hands, my fingers.
If he wishes he can sprinkle salt in the open wound,
he can throw ground-up black pepper in my eyes.
So that if he wishes he can slash my thigh with a dagger,
so that if he wishes he can string me up and hang me.

He wanted my heart under his control
so that I would love him:
in my lonely house at night,
sleepless, full of anxiety,
clutching at the window grille,
I would wait for him and sob,
My tears rolling down, I would bake homemade bread;
so that I would drink, as if they were ambrosia,
the filthy liquids of his polygynous body.
So that, loving him, I would melt like wax,
not turning my eyes toward any other man,
I would give proof of my chastity all my life.
So that, loving him
on some moonlit night I would commit suicide
in a fit of ecstasy

*

NOORJAHAN

They have made Noorjahan stand in a hole in the courtyard,
there she stands, submerged to her waist with head hanging.
They’re throwing stones at Noorjahan,
those stones are striking my body.
Stones are striking my head, forehead, chest and back,
they’re throwing stones and laughing aloud, laughing and shouting abuse.
Noorjahan’s fractured forehead pours out blood, mine also.
Noorjahan’s eyes have burst, mine also.
Noorjahan’s nose has been smashed, mine also.
Through Noorjahan’s torn breast, her heart has been pierced, mine also.
Are these stones not striking you?

They’re laughing aloud, laughing and stroking their beards,
there are caps stuck to their heads, they too are shaking with laughter.
They’re laughing and swinging their walking-sticks;
from the quiver of their cruel eyes, arrows speed to pierce her body, my body also.
Are these arrows not piercing your body?

*

EVE, OH EVE

Why wouldn’t Eve have eaten of the fruit?
Didn’t she have a hand to reach out with,
Fingers with which to make a fist?
Didn’t Eve have a stomach for feeling hunger,
A tongue for feeling thirst,
A heart with which to love?

Well, then, why wouldn’t Eve have eaten of the fruit?
Why would she merely have suppressed her wishes,
Regulated her steps,
Subdued her thirst?
Why would she have been so compelled
To keep Adam moving around in the Garden of Eden all their lives?

Because Eve did eat of the fruit,
There is sky and earth.
Because she has eaten,

There are moon, sun, rivers, seas,

Because she has eaten, trees, plants and vines.

because Eve has eaten of the fruit

there is joy, because she has eaten there is joy.

Eating of the fruit, Eve made a heaven of the earth.

Eve, if you get hold of the fruit

don’t ever refrain from eating.

*

YOU GO GIRL!

They said—take it easy…
Said—calm down…
Said—stop talkin’…
Said—shut up….
They said—sit down….
Said—bow your head…
Said—keep on cryin’, let the tears roll…

What should you do in response?

You should stand up now
Should stand right up
Hold your back straight
Hold your head high…
You should speak
Speak your mind
Speak it loudly
Scream!

You should scream so loud that they must run for cover.
They will say—’You are shameless!’
When you hear that, just laugh…

They will say— ‘You have a loose character!’
When you hear that, just laugh louder…

They will say—’You are rotten!’
So just laugh, laugh even louder…

Hearing you laugh, they will shout,
‘You are a whore!’

When they say that,
just put your hands on your hips,
stand firm and say,
“Yes, yes, I am a whore!”

They will be shocked.
They will stare in disbelief.
They will wait for you to say more, much more…

The men amongst them will turn red and sweat.
The women amongst them will dream to be a whore like you.

Comments

  1. roger ivanhart says

    A civilized man treats a woman as an equal,
    Without exception, without raised voice,
    Without fear of humiliation.

    A civilized man respects a woman’s point of view
    And acts on it; but freely gives her the choice,
    As an equal human being, to change her mind.

    A civilized man is not violent nor abusive
    When ambitions are thwarted by a woman’s need
    For love, for comfort and security.

    A civilized man learns, and willingly accepts,
    That only a woman can carry
    Their equal claim to immortality -
    The genes combined within their seed.

    • PDX_Greg says

      Hmmm. How about the civilized man realizing that she is no less and no more a person than himself, with equal claims to self-determination that don’t actually flow from his own generous nature.

      Perhaps he should ponder that these things do not exist only because he is so “civilized” as to grant or recognize these qualities in her.

      If he is a fast thinker, he may be able to do this before he injures his arm by patting himself on the back for how he has so generously granted his woman-object almost man-like equality.

      • Uncephalized says

        We all of us grant each other our rights by refusing to violate them. I don’t think it is patronizing or belittling to recognize that for everyone to have equal rights, it requires that everyone respect and honor them. Or to understand that in any situation where a power imbalance exists (as in the vast majority of men having physical power over the vast majority of women, when alone, due to sheer size), it is more incumbent on the powerful to police their words and actions so as to avoid oppressing the weak.

        Granted, it may have read less discriminatory if he had said “people” instead of “men” and “women”, but I’ll grant him a little poetic license, personally.

  2. db17 says

    I really like “Noorjahan” and “Eve, Oh Eve” and their sentiments. Which is not to say that the other two are bad, but y’know! Thanks, and keep writing bravely.

  3. Taru Dutt says

    Taslimadi, The skin on my arms pimpled, reading the utter naked courage in every line of these poems. I salute you; I salute the work you do. Apni dirgho-jibi hon. Live for ever.

  4. Damisola says

    Do you have a problem with marriage? A woman is no less a feminist or seen as equal just because she is married. I think your first poem was a bit extreme.

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