Tell Us Marx
She who spun rhymes, wove blankets
by Mallika Sengupta
The Dravidian woman who sowed wheat
In the Aryan man’s fields, reared his kids
If she isn’t worker, then what is work?
Tell us, Marx, who is a worker who isn’t
New industrial workers with monthly wages
Are they the only ones who work?
Slum life is the Industrial Age’s gift
To the worker’s housewife
She draws water, mops floors, cooks food
After daily grind at night
She beats her son and weeps
She too isn’t worker?
Then tell us, Marx, what is work!
Since housework is unpaid labour, will women simply
Sit at home and cook for the revolutionary
And comrade he is alone who wields hammer and sickle!
Such injustice does not become You
If ever there is a revolution
There will be heaven on earth
Classless, stateless, in that enlightened world
Tell us, Marx
Will women then become the handmaidens of revolution?
[Translated by Sanjukta Dasgupta]