Oct 1 2007
I don’t agree with a single word of this poem:
BURN THIS SARI by Jayaprabha
Burn this sari.
When I see this end
Of the sari on my shoulder..
I think of chastity a log
Hung from my neck.
It does not let me stand up straight
It presses my chest with its hands
bows me down,
teaches me shame
and whirls around me
a certain bird like confusion
It hypnotizes me telling You
You are a woman
Makes me forget I am human
It covers both my shoulders
with its own hands and flutters
announcing “See, see, this woman, she is chaste”
I feel like screaming “No, No I am not”
But my throat does not open
I am defeated by this sari
It throws me down like a whirl wind.
It is blame generations have laid on me.
The unseen patriarchal hand
This sari is the white shroud on the corpse
That is me in this culture of loot and plunder
If I’ve to stop being the walking dead
I’ve to burn this sari first
Just burn this sari.
THE OXFORD ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN INDIAN POETRY
by Vinay Dharwadker and ED. BY: A. K. Ramanujan
Paperback (Edition: 2002)
Jayaprabha, is a renowned feminist poets. Her poems have been published in several collections including “sooryuDu kooDaa udayistaaDu” (1980), “yuddhOn_mukhaMgaa” (1986), “vaamanuDi mooDO paadaM” (1988), “ikkaDa kurisina varshaM ekkaDi Anidi” (1991), “yaSOdharaa yee vagapeMdukE” (1993).
The response to this poem can be seen here:
but I think the response is kind of lame.
I am a feminist first and design critique second. If you associate saree with something, or with a situation, especially as an instrumentality to constraint women, don’t wear it. Let it go, wear whatever feels comfortable and free and after you have done that, come back and if Saree allows you to embrace the freedom, give it a try, it will empower you.