In from the fire we came running,
lit by the howling wombs of our mothers,
Our men have gone and melted into the earth,
We have done all we could.
Outside, we hear the shrieking brutes,
their deluging thirst swells by the minute,
We rage to see the end of the night,
No one knows what we had to give.
We walk in circles, and don our veils,
and paint our feet a barbaric red–
a little girl tugs on my gold aanchal,
she tells me 'I am scared of the heat',
With tears in my eyes, I take her small bangled hands,
and caress the soft strands of her long auburn hair;
I forsake the softness in me.
'You are the fire you fear the most', I tell her,
arm in arm, we walk down the steps.
We walk past the singing bells and our chambers,
Blind to the perils beyond our walls,
These are the vows we took with our lovers,
These are the vows we owe one another,
We are Draupadi: ten souls in one.
The time has come to avenge our wombs,
and heave our umbilical blues;
Together we light our pyre,
Together, we walk into the fire.
Snata Basu is an aspiring poet from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her work mostly centers on passionate, personal bindings. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at North South University.