girls don’t burn.

girls don’t burn.

this, is not an apology.
this is not an anthem.
this is cold metal rage.

girls don’t burn.
the bravest girl i know,
caught fire when she was six
and she refused to cry.
she wrapped her tiny body in steel
and learnt to dance along mridangams.

courage deserves accolades
as does endurance.
silence cannot be inheritance-
turn it away from your door.

so, what if-
you are reduced to a kitchen appliance, lowest at maslow’s hierarchy of needs -daal, chawal, roti.
the kitchen, a threat.
the butter knife capable of
puncturing pulmonary veins.
provoking you to,
dance, in pain.
scream, mid dance.
and then scream, in pain.

i want to bake my own bread,
simmer beef in garlic,
eat it by the sea,
with my head in a hole.
i want an ice boxed capri.
i want sweet white wine.
crystal, clear, sharp
on my tongue like an apology.

i want to dance amidst women,
i want topsy turvy mirth,
i want paraphernalia,
i want to move my body along the madness.
i want to be hemingway.
once betrayed in love,
alive amidst septet kittens worth nine lives.

i am a catlady,
i am feline devastating beauty.
i am pied piper drowning men in desire.
i am bertha, i am medusa, i am shikandhi.
i am twenty and delhi drunk in hauzkhas.

i am a house on fire
with its women inside,
i am ritualistic penance
at a dead husband’s pyre.
or, foglight at heaven’s gate,
as women burn and burn and burn.

isn’t there oppression in benevolence?

and i don’t want
front-page empowerment ads,
discounted beauty products,
discourses on power, gender, policymaking.

all i need,
are my girls,
a bar and a bender.
my friends dancing nakedfeet
on table tops on too much tequila,
pouring fire
straight down their throats, sliding across dance floors.

if there is a past,
if there is memory,
if there is grief and it’s recollection – let there be drunk table top dancing and most importantly, laughter.

Adrija Ghosh

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