‘Katra’ – a poem by Kavita A. Jindal, written in reaction to an apparent ‘honour killing’ of two teenaged girls in India.

 

Katra

May 2014

 

My sisters

you have been strangled and hung

from the mango tree.

For international papers

you’ve been

a horrific story

 

until the next disaster and outrage elsewhere.

 

My sisters

don’t forgive us

our broken world

our exclamations and excuses

our failure to educate

menfolk in decency

 

our not being able to provide you safe toilets.

 

You didn’t need lavatory buildings

commodes or toilet seats

you needed safety,

be it in fields

or walking the lanes

around your home.

 

You needed no one to believe they were better than you.

 

You needed no one to assume

you mattered so little

that you could be killed

you could be child pawns

of punishment and disgrace

and the police would think nothing of it.

 

My sisters, it was not you who were shamed.

 

It was everyone else.

Perhaps you were raped

perhaps you were spotted talking

to a male friend

perhaps you were abducted.

None of this is your shame.

 

It is ours

that it can even be said

that two teenage girls

should be strung up

silenced

by their own dupatta.

 

We failed you in so many ways.

 

My sisters

don’t forgive

bequeath your souls to the breeze

so the perpetrators hear you

carrying with them always

your unforgiveness.

 

Don’t let them forget; don’t let us forget.

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