My Dupatta

February 16th, 2021

By: Shivika Priyadarshi


“Use your dupatta,
Protect your dignity”
An easy notion
And easily I understood.

“Collect the fodder, work the field,” said dad
To the youngest help, he had.
The town people talked, “Monsters work that field”
“Touch them and burn!” they screamed and screamed.
I know of their lies, for I worked that field
And I am no monster, I cried and grieved.

So, I covered myself
in the longest cotton
This dupatta protected Draupadi.
And this dupatta will protect me.

And in all this heat,
my soul still froze.
My eyes met theirs,
they saw the fear.

I grabbed my dupatta,
As they grabbed my hair.
I bit my tongue,
As they tore me whole.
I screamed and fought,
And one by one,
they destroyed me more.
Are these the monsters, the world warned me about?
“No, you are the monster!” they whispered so loud.

Oh, how I hoped,
My touch burnt them!
Oh, how I hoped,
My breath they condemned!

And all hope died,
all gods fell still,
for they unwrapped my dupatta,
my savior and grace.

Author's Note

The following poem is in relation to the Hathras case, written in accordance with Manisha Valmiki. I tried my level best to express her struggle in this poem, bringing light to both the harassment of women and prevalent caste discrimination in India.

To find out more about the Hathras case Click Here

References

India’s lower-caste Dalit women raped ‘to keep them in their place’: report
Hathras case: A woman repeatedly reported rape. Why are police denying it?