I shall not weep for you
I have no compassion for you
You are the cause
Of all our endless pain
Your insistence on a one-man relationship,
Your jumping into the fire,
Your final disappearance into the bowels of the earth
Your guardian Valmiki’s poem
these were foolish, thoughtless acts
To perpetuate an image.
Only, the image has grown
Bigger than the original.
A false image, a pernicious image
Your calculations were all wrong.
You loved Rama
Followed him to the forest
Suddenly, you turned acquisitive
Desired to own the Golden Deer
Sent Rama to capture it
Blamed Lakshmana who tried to protect you.
Playing with fire seems to be your favourite game
Couldn’t recognise Ravana in the guise of
An impostor mendicant.
You arrived in this Asoka bower
Your prison and pyre to
Prove your chastity (to whom) ?
Rama’s messenger came,
He who shows respect to Rama
By covering his mouth,
Ready, to carry out all his dictates.
You believed him too
Accepting Rama’s ring as an act of faith.
You handed over your bejeweled hairpin to him.
Then came the period of waiting,
Waiting for Rama to make his heroic appearance
To redeem you, who waited in anticipation.
You foolish woman,
Will your brain ever be cleared of cobwebs?
Rama arrived, with his monkey band
War, terrible war.
Many people killed,
Ravana, Kumbakarna, Indrajit
And many other brave warriors,
Didn’t you hear the heartrending
Wails of their widows
Did you, for a moment, think
That you could build your Ramarajya
Over the burnt ashes of Lanka,
Ignoring the widows’ laments?
Well, you were proven wrong.
Your living God,
The great Sree Rama,
In public, in front of a big crowd
That had gathered to cheer him
As the victor
“Sita, you are impure, defiled
I do not want you.”
Like an insulted Sati,
You ordered for a fire to be lit
And jumped into it
But, you weren’t burnt to ashes
After all, you are Sita, not an ordinary woman
Even fire cannot touch you.
Did it occur to you that even Fire, the purifier
A male symbol and weapon of annihilation
Was rejecting you as an outcaste?
You came back as “pure” Sita,
At least, that’s what they told you
Gold, gleaming ten times more,
All impurities removed.
Damn you, woman, you
And your unshakeable faith.
Rama took you back
You returned to Ayodhya
As his wife, as his queen
All insults forgotten
In the melee of the coronation.
But, for how long did the facade last?
A common washerman spoke ill of you
Cast aspersions on your chastity
That was all he, Rama needed
To abandon you in a forest
A preganant woman, the mother of his children.
This time, he didn’t consult you
He just asked his brother to do the dirty job.
One who washed away the dirt from clothes
And the other, an expert
In detecting and cleansing
Impurities of character
They decided your fate,
No court, no defense
An arbitrary, patriarchal decision.
Afterwards, Rama performed the horse sacrifice
To prove his kingly might.
This time he called you back
Or was asked to call you back
Maybe, to fulfil the ritual wifely obligations.
Eventually, he settled for
a golden replica of you beside him.
Even gold melts when fire is applied
But the hard-hearted Rama
Sought solace in kingly justice.
You were called to the court
To once again publicly declare your purity.
This was too much even for you
You cried out to your mother,
The Earth Mother, seeking protection.
She came, after all she is a mother
Then you disappeared into the depths of the Earth
That marks the end of your story.
Those who threw you into the blazing fire
Or banished you to forest,
A prey for wild animals
That you are one of the five
Uttering your name,
they said would pave the way
For salvation from sins.
What cruel propaganda,
You, a failure of a woman painted
As a role model.
Today you are a respectable woman
Not a victim
of baseless rumors.
Because, despite it all
The inequities, the injustices
You did not protest
Neither for yourself
Nor for the clan of women,
The future of womanhood.
Instead, you escaped and
Took refuge in your mother’s womb.
If that was silent protest,
It was just puerile.
All you did was, keeping your image
As a traditional, unprotesting,
The world forgave you
Restored you as the ideal of womanhood
Punished in life for lack of chastity
Deified in death for purity
What is truth, what is fiction?
In the name of Sati and you Sita
How many women, my people
Jump into the fire, burn
Just to preserve the idea of chastity.
How can you see all that
And sleep in comfort
On the breasts of your mother!
What a fate have you left for us,
On the one hand admonitions and
Exhortations to be chaste
Forgetting all other loves.
On the other, suspicion, recrimination;
Punished even if chaste.
We always live for a public image
Not for ourselves.
Another drama performed simultaneous,
By people who fight for Ayodhya,
For Rama, the impeccable
Those who gain peace and comfort
Chanting the name of Rama.
No one remembers you
People see you as a symbol
Of Rama’s one-wife policy
We are the ones who suffer the consequences
Of your lack of backbone.
I have no compassion for you,
Not even respect
Your name, your husband Rama’s name,
The name of your story, Ramayana.
It will not suffice to rewrite it all.
Enough of intellectual garbage
Enough of interpretations,
Seeking “Sakthi” in “Yukthi”.
The whole memory has to be wiped clean
Not a temporary amnesia
But, an all-engulfing Pralaya
To start afresh on a clean slate
Then, and then only can we
The women of Bharata’s domain
Get our release.
Then alone, only then
Can we be ourselves
Women with no baggage of the past.