Poem – Advice for a Daughter in India

(Disclaimer: this is not about my mother saying these things to me. She is the supportive force behind who I am today. But she did grow up hearing these things from adults in her life.)

My mother would say
As only an Indian mother would
You need to prepare for life
And learn all the things that a woman should

3 generations

3 generations (Photo credit: Frederic Poirot)

For one day when you come of age
My daughter, you shall be led to be wed
A daughter’s duty as that of a cow
Is to follow dutifully where she is led


When you go to “your” home
For a daughter is but another’s treasure
We are only her keepers temporarily
You must brighten your home and bring pleasure


Make someone a good wife and become
A good “Bahu”, or a wife of the household
Dutifully obey your mother-in-law
Be flexible and bend to her mold


As they say, “darkness never falls on a home”
Where a daughter-in-law rises before dawn
Sleep last, but rise first, my dear daughter,
Before the clucking of the cocks welcoming the morn


Be an obedient daughter-in-law and a good mother
A mother who knows how to train a good daughter
Should you have the ill fortune of having a daughter
For the fortunate ones bear sons, my dear daughter.


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