Friday, November 01, 2013

A state of no progress

Poetry, Nov '13
By Shompa Datta

You must take this city bus to school to be on time
But a crowd of riders bulge out at the doors
So, you push and push till it swallows you and your fears
            No personal space here!

Over pot-holes and narrow corners
Everyone rides together, companions
In sweat and smell and bodies tiered
            No comfortable journey here!

But, your schoolgirl dreams shatter –
A hand creeps up and down your thigh
The heavy-breathing body rubs rhythmically undeterred
            No compunction here!

So, you carry a pin to warn away molesting hands
Who blame the buses and the swaying crowds
For men will be men in close quarters, it appears
            No safe space here!

After generations of unschooled instinct excused
Gang-rapes on buses become repeated breaking news
Live women are easy game, this society holds,
Though in parras or hoods goddesses are revered
            No, no progress here!

Shompa Datta writes to give voice to issues and experiences that influence her at home and abroad. Her poems have been published in LimeStone Dust Poetry, Desilicious and Scripts. As a Kolkata lover, she hopes that the city will regain its place as a trailblazer Indian city; as a US resident, she hopes for civil rights for all, irrespective of gender, class, race and sexual orientation.
She earns a living as an Associate Professor of English at Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama and lives in the same city with her partner.

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