This is for the woman who gave birth to me.
Do you remember?
The way your belly swelled with my soul forming.
Did you sing to me? Did you ever touch your belly? Stroke it softly, maybe?
Did he ever touch, ever hold you close, us close?
Was it what you wanted? The child. Were you forced? Were you excited?
Or were you filled with dread, with worry?
Were you sad? Maybe that’s why sadness is my best friend too.
Did I give you a hard time, kicking around in your womb, as though… it was not made for me?
Or did your voice lull me to sleep… finally giving you some peace?
Were you yearning to be called Ammi? or Maa? Was it what you needed to hear to get you through the nights?
Did you pray for a boy? Did he demand for a boy? Did you pray at all?
Who did you pray too?
Were you happy with me.. in you? Did you ever dance?
What was the one thing you loved eating while I swam in you?
Do you remember the day? or maybe the night, or the moment?
Forcing my way out of your vagina,
Covered in the reminiscence of the bond we shared,
only 9months long?
Did you hold me in your arms? Just once? For just a second?
Or did you always know
that my umbilical cord was never meant for you?
That the blood I was covered in though yours,
I was not?
Did you cry? Did you scream?
Were you alone? Was he there?
Did he hold me? Did you push me away knowing, knowing I was not what you wanted?
Did your heart break when they told you, “Mubaarak ho, ladki hai yeh!”
Knowing my feet would take me away from you?
Or did coldness sweep through your soul,
the feeling of the burden I would bring onto you weighing your heart down?
Did you wish I was a boy? Did you?
Were you angry… at what a cruel fate God, Allah, Bhagwaan had given you?
Did you want to go to war with whoever made me this and not that?
At whoever who would make me bleed every once a month,
instead of making me the one who would bring a dulhaan home?
Did you make a sound when you saw me in their arms,
my little self growing further and further away from you
or had you made peace inside that I was nothing to you
but something you had to let go off? Wanted to let go off?
Needed, needed to wash the blood of your hands so you forget,
forget that you had forced this burden out of you?
What a shame, what a shame my vagina carried.
Do you remember? My little fingers, maybe wanting to just feel your skin…
Just once? Did I reach out? And did it break your heart… or maybe, in place of your heart,
was it just stone?
Does it still echo in your ears? My cries, my screams, needing you,
needing your breast, your milk… Did you deny me or did you give in.. just once?
Are you still alive?
Does your ears still ache with wanting to hear my voice…just one more time?
Even if it was the screams?
Do your arms wish that they could reach out just one more time and hold my skin against yours?
Or are they still unmoving at the thought of me?
Do you even think of me? Do you wonder if I am happy, if I am at peace? If I have eaten?
Do you ever cry when you think of me?
Because I try not too when I think of you because I don’t know you.
And I don’t know if I want too.
And maybe you never wanted to know me either.
Does it make your heart burn with jealously knowing
My tongue calls another woman, Maa?
Or do you think I have perished into the night? To a brothel maybe? A beggar, a slave?
Does the thought of that make you beg God, Allah, Bhagwaan to keep me safe?
Or have you decided to put the shame behind you and forget the day, the night, the moment
You pushed me out of my first home?
Do you remember? I don’t know what to call you, but do you remember?
The day, the night, the moment you gave birth to me,
The daughter you never had, never wanted,
never touched, never loved?
Or maybe, you did love, you did feel, you did want
but the burden the burden,
oh the shame, the shame a girl brings, too much to bear.
Do you remember the day you gave birth to me?
The day your beti left the house,
her feet not even ready to touch the ground.
Was it cold that night? Was it snowing?
Maybe that’s why I love the snow.
The day you gave birth to your beti,
the day she died
and the day… I left the home that was never meant for me.
I left the woman that was never meant to be…
Do you remember your beti?
Do you remember me?