A Midnight Rant

I told my parents I want to live
I want to relish life
I want it to feel like it all worthwhile.
Daddy asks me what I want of life
And I thought that was a real question
And I began answering in all my passionate, crazy lines.
I told him I wanted to lose my way
I wanted to meet stranger people, see how the world looks through their eyes.
I told him I wished to be astray
And that somedays I want to walk as far as my legs could carry me
And maybe a little further than that.
I told him I wanted to break free
That I wanted to feel the wind on my face
I wanted to breathe like everything is perfectly in place.
I told him I wanted to see the world
As freely as my younger brother wanders
And meet it in its shy and secret ways.
I told him I want to love life like no one else had ever dared
I told him I wanted to live like nothing would ever matter
And he knew that by nothing I meant my gender
And people and everything else in between.
Including my voice which he preferred to be sweet
Even as my head was breaking in pain or anger
And even when injustice claimed a better stance
And strength and could bind me with a stronger chain
Because injustice is something good girls take for granted.

He frowned as I finished saying
That I wanted to accompany a gypsy on her trails
And learn for learning's sake
And not to win a job or a wedding to seal worthless deals.

He told me I was being the worst a girl could be to her family
To her people and the world
They reminded me that it is such girls
That face the fate of a Nirbhaya late
Because such girls that make so bold
Can expect no better response to all their dreams
And become nothing more than
A curse in human disguise upon the entire race.
He said I had thrown my entire education
Down the dirtiest drain.

And I paused. Not me. But I paused him
Because I had to say
That locking up real humans inside cages
In the name of protection and care
Is medieval.
And that Nirbhaya was not a curse
Nor is any girl
Who suffered her so-called fate and still put up a valiant fight.
And that it was true not just about girls
But for every human born.
I had to tell them that
In a world speaking of equal land and water
It is a pity you leave human beings behind.
I had to tell them
That the very quest for civilization that has brought you to this threshold
To talk of bestowing on me that proud piece of patriarchal education
That I am only too inclined to reject
And glad to let go down the drain
Is what is feeding this into your standardized brains.
And to blame it on the girls this misfortune
Of a fallen race?
Where were all of you when you were suffocating me
To feed those beasts more air?

And sorry I said all of this rather angry
To the man whom I revere more than all people else.
But I was angry and loud
Because I cannot hide behind curtains and mumble
And so, thankfully, all that he heard was my raised voice!

by Anusha Sreekant

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