There is a very old tradition of poetry in Afghanistan, before the arrival of the Taliban. Written as couplets, they were called landay. After the Taliban came, women began writing and sharing in small private groups. And yet when her family members or Taliban came to know about it, women were sometimes whipped and even killed for writing poetry. Eliza Griswold, a Guggenheim Fellow traveled with photographer Seamus Murphy on assignment with the New York Times Magazine to learn about one such young poetess who was killed by her family for writing poems. There she privately met small groups of women and collected landays or poems written by them. For more details and to read these couplets: See the URL below.
In one of my literature groups, we had to say something on the topic of “Me and You” in Gujarati language. I selected a few lines from their couplets and took the liberty to slightly modify them to fit the theme and shared them after translating in Gujarati language. I am posting them here along with my own poem below..
You forced me into marriage with an old man
May Allah burn down the house where I spent my childhood
Making love to you old man
Is like fucking a shriveled cornstalk blackened by mold.
When sisters gather, they admire their brothers
When you brothers meet, you sell your sisters, kill them, burn them.
My body is my own;
Yet you are its master
And finally sharing the poem below that I wrote………
I, me — are not just words to inflate my ego
You — you are not just your masculinity
You and I are not always separate
Sometimes, you and I are a relationship
Then I exist, so do you
For a woman may have come from a man’s rib but once
But a man is born from her womb everyday
If you are the question, I am the answer
Don’t make my existence the focus of your dominance
If you close me inside a veil, I will not cease to be
Don’t spend your time erasing my nail polish
For when your life is erased, how will you prove your worth in heaven?
Virgins don’t need nail polish scrubbers
But surely, gates of hell will remain open for your arrival