Crazy Women

Why do we so easily call a woman crazy?

Maybe I am writing this in the aftermath of watching The Hours, and recollecting Mrs. Dalloway and the brilliant, depressed and suicidal Virginia Woolf, which led me to remember Sylvia Plath as well. Maybe I am crazy too, for letting dead strangers and books affect me so much, yet again. But that my mental condition need not diminish the question: why do we so easily call a woman crazy?

Is it because all we see are images of happy women everywhere? Women with straight set teeth and shining hair laugh as they ride a bike, eat a mango, apply face wash, buy a bathroom cleaner, use a new brand of pads – why are the women on billboards and TVs so happy? What is so exciting about a masala powder, so painless about menstruation, so exhilarating about an air freshener that the woman smiles without pausing?

Is it because women are supposed to forget themselves, all the time? Women are the ones who balance career and kids, a woman nurses her husband when she is sick, patiently finds a solution while those around her lose their heads. A woman is always a hero, but one that disappears. She is essential in the background, in the margins, as a shadow in the lives of others. She is supposed to see this position as a privilege; her life of service is happiness because she makes others happy.

So, when is a woman called crazy? When she isn’t happy. When she realizes being selfless isn’t being complete, isn’t love.

And why is this woman called crazy? Why should her unhappiness, her anger be quelled immediately? Because this woman is dangerous. So, her actions are termed irrational, her feelings hysterical, her words emotional. What is wrong with irrationality? What is wrong with hysteria? Why deny emotions? What is life without all this?

What is life if I am not the crazy woman, at least once in a while?

Let me crazy, for a while. It might be reckless, but I am happy. I can almost taste life.

I can never access the genius of Woolf or Plath. But let me have a taste of their madness, oh let me revel in insanity for a while.

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Being God

It’s a strange world when

Half of its population cannot claim

Ownership of their bodies.

Stranger still, when the other half

Claims this as their right.

.

You have already pegged me, fit me in neat boxes

By the clothes I wear. Jeans, salwar or shorts:

They bear a silent testimony to my virtue, my marketability.

.

When my breasts, my curves, my blood

Are taboos, never meant to be spoken about:

Only for secret gropings and your possession,

Learning to love my own body

Feels like a transgression.

.

It is not right for me to feel beautiful,

You’ll find flaws plenty to undermine

The process of my unlearning.

I know my body is marked,

There are scars only I can see

Which I cover with demure smiles.

.

My body is marked

By your gaze, your colonizing thoughts,

Your relentless hands.

I’m left with what you’ve discarded.

It isn’t right for me to learn to love my body

It is a miracle that only I can perform.

That way, I’m nearer to God

Than you ever can be.

 

Blood

I could write

A hundred thousand words,

And you still wouldn’t understand

Why I say nothing.

.

Every word a woman writes

Is tinged in her blood.

She’s used to bleeding,

That is why she’s born.

.

To be crushed, so that the world makes sense to you.

To be silent. so that you can speak for me as well,

To be dead, so that my life is yours to live.

.

Enjoy my body

There is no blood left.

I’ve bled out, I’m sand dry

Savour me now

And tell me what you taste.

 

The Mouthless Woman

The drip of a leaky tap

Has turned into a gush of blood.

I am terrified of time:

Its malevolent, fickle movements.

The night no longer embraces me

In its absolute blackness:

I can hear all of its voices now.

I fear if I turn just an inch,

They will tear my skin off.

.

I find myself being afraid

Of so many, many things.

I am so full of secrets.

History’s pull is stringer now

I dare not imagine a future

Rid of yesterday’s scratches and screams.

.

I fear I will turn

Into the mouthless woman

Decked in her father’s sweat

And her mother’s tired expectations.

The mouthless woman is dangerous:

She lets him have her life.

More importantly, when she finds a voice

It will only say, “Keep your eyes down, dear”,

“Do not provoke them, daughter”,

Or worst, “you’ll grow up to be just like me”.