Salman Rushdie once said: "We, Indians, love to burn our women!" Surely enough, it is the 'easiest', and the 'safest' way of doing away with the 'unwanted women';For eons of time,history has watched helplessly excesses done on women;India'

Woman Burning Bright!

Centuries have come and centuries have gone,
Moment-to-moment I burn along...
Life is burning desert sand...

Pooja1* lamp, I burn so bright
Without a wick, with incandescent light...

In hell-fire-of-separation, I burn,
My beloved, unconcerned...

Bowl of poison, I drink without a hitch,
Like Meera2*, my moon is eclipsed...

I have stood the "Test-of-Fire"
With Sita3*, on burning pyre...

Like a candle melts my soul,
Moths a thousand, encircle close...

My womb's scorched again and again,
A mother, I love without a gain...

My forehead, Vermillion-dyed,
In bright–red flames, a "Burning-Bride4*"...

Still, I burn on the "Funeral–Pyre",
As a "Sati5*", much to my ire...

As one born out of a litter,
I was sold to the highest bidder...

Quietly, in the womb done away6*
I never saw the light of the day...

"Wood burns to coal, coal to ashes,
I burn so, neither coal nor ashes..."7*

Centuries have come, and centuries have gone,
Moment-to-moment, I burn along...
Humanity is a barren desert land....

Author: Zoya Zaidi
Aligarh (UP), India
Copyright©: Zoya Zaidi

2*Meera Bai, a "Sufi" poetess of "Bhakti" cult, considered herself a consort of Lord Krishna, the worldly –wise deity and the writer and propounder of the famous of "Bhagwad Geeta" philosophy of "Karma"!... Being a kings wife, in a conspiracy, she was made to drink a bowl of potent poison; the legend goes, that so deeply was she in love, that she drank the poison unheeded, and survived by the sheer power of her love...She symbolizes divine, sublime, pure love...
3*Sita of the Hindu epic Ramayana, was made to go through the "test-by- fire", by sitting on a burning pyre, to prove her chastity, after she was 'rescued', by her husband, Ram, the king of Ayodhaya, from the clutches of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, who abducted her and kept her with him for a long time...
4*"Bride Burning" is the term coined in India, to refer to the "Dowry-Deaths' (Another unique Indian term), where women are "accidentally" burned by "Kerosene-stoves/gas cylinder-bursting " or simply " in the " kitchen-accidents", when they don't bring enough "Dower" from their father's home for the groom ...
5*Sati, an ancient Indian tradition of burning the wife on the "funeral-pyre" of her husband to save her "honour", (also called "Johar" in Rajpoot tradition of women of fallen warriors, jumping into a tank of fire, to ward against their "pillage" at the hands of the enemy); This heinous practice still persists...The famous case of "Roop Kanwar", in 1887, is one such glaring example...
6*Foeticide, has replaced, the ancient Indian practice of strangulation and burying-alive, of baby girls, since the advent of Ultrasound: As soon as the sex of the foetus is determined to be that of a female, the baby is aborted (though, sex determination is termed illegal by law in India since1989), according to a recent survey;" 10 million girls fell victim to "Female Foeticide" in last two decades, and these are estimated figures only...So much so that the term: 'Missing girls" is coined to depict the glaring gap between the estimated number of girls that should be born to each 1000 boys , and those who are actually born...the figures stand at a shocking 793 girls to each 1000 boys born (in the state of Punjab alone),while the estimated number should be: equal number of girls born to each 1000 boys...
7* Quote from Meera Bai's famous poem:
"Lakri jali bhai koela,
Koela bhaya rakh,
Main birhan aise jali,
Koela bhai na rakh..."

Poetry by Zoya Zaidi
Read 1516 times
Written on 2006-01-19 at 04:33

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

I dont understand or try to understand this text youve written but I love it

That was an amazing poem. I love the strength that it gives off. Its very descripitive and it flows well. Your poem shines with excellence.

you are amazing with imagery you really are.
from angel.

c g shankar
Zoya dear,"Centuries have come, and centuries have gone,
Moment-to-moment, I burn along...
Humanity is a barren desert land...." A very thought provoking article! These must end and must be erased from literature, if new norms of equality are to be initialised world over! It is not civilisation either to leave one and marry another because of the rights ! Marriage should not be for sex alone! ((((hugs))))), with love, shankar

Powerful, thought-provoking. the burning of people should be outdated and yet it reains so, a sign of how uncivilized the human race is still...abusing the gift of fire to destroy a life...

Reading this text i see all these burning sisters parade in front of me, in endless lines, like a tragic cortege...
Thank u also for all the information you provide in your notes!

what can I say that hasn't been said ,nothing realy ,,all I can do is say wonderful poem from a wonderful poet...Eddy

Zoya Zaidi
Dear SlipThruCracks,
Are you my daughter?
Or were you my daughter in the last "janam"(life in the theory of incarnation)?
Must be...
Because every time you come to my page you leave foot prints, that I want to follow,
I want go behind you right up to those nooks and corners of your mind where you hide such thoughts,
I want to visit those recesses of your heart where you store such compassion,
I want to penetrate that soul of yours where lie those cravings for truth...
I want to tell you, that you are my spiritual daughter!
((((hugs fo that lovely remark!))))
xxx, Zoya

Zoya this is a sad truth to know, that women in many parts of this world hold no value at all. Brutal and cruel, i wonder at the thinking of such wretched cruelity. I have read some on the way women in the middle eastern countries are treated, i have read of the forced circumsision of young women in Africa, and the slavery of young girls, children really, into prostitution, your piece is along those lines and needed to be said, read, are a voice to the world Zoya....i thank you. Your work is outstanding.

~Bluest of Blue BlueyedSoul

I must say, I've re-read this... I don't know how many times over the past day or two, trying to come up with something comprehensive to say about it.

You are going to find this statement ghastly, perhaps [because, honestly, it is], but: This is a fascinating subject.

Fascinating in that way that people study the Holocaust, the genocides in the Sudan and elsewhere, the World Wars, the Septembre 11 attacks on America, and even things as simple as a car wreck on the freeway. The list goes on and on and every day it seems that all you hear about is tragedy.

People are naturally drawn to disaster, even those who AREN'T as reflective as I.

I would to like to thank you, also, for bringing this issue to light.

Two things I've learned this year in my beginning journalism class: If it bleeds, it leads; the best weapon against critics is the truth.

People, in every facet of their existance, are simply fascinating. I love to look at them, to listen to them, to read about them, to talk to them, to try to learn their secrets, and what they are thinking, and why, and what they are doing, and why, and what they are feeling, and why.

I am still pondering this issue.

Among many others.

It's things like this, that make me REALLY want to be a journalist. To dig deeper, to discover the WHY behind human existance [beautiful and horrid], and to shed light on the truth.

Which is exactly what you've done here.

I admire this text for its brutal honesty, because it was obviously a hard thing to write. And it's a hard thing to think about.

And I just wanted to let you know that you've made me think.

[I fear that my comment is far longer than it should be... but I didn't want to just say, "How deep and meaningful; I rate it a 5." Because this is more than that.]

Celtic boy
Religion and customs. We always ask questions of them but we still obey them.

This poem is an amazing insight to the ways of other people from our shared world.

This poem was hard for me to read, but only because it is so blatantly truthful and descriptive of the pain women had to go through. You always write with a passion, Zoya, and you express thoughts and emotions clearly.

Hi ! Agree with all said below ... Very interesting read .... different , but touching.
Your work(s) are certainly good and worth reading ..... Glen ( GB )

Mark Reynolds
this poem has a certain quality to it. that must have been hard on those people in the past, and present. very strong, and very emotional.

:)) Mark Reynolds

Wow--VERY powerful poem, Zoya. A lot of people complain about their particular people or race being prejuduced against, but no matter a person's colour or creed--women have always gotten the short end of the stick! Traded like cattle, bethrothen to an old, etc. Your poems always are such an eye-opener!! Bravo, Bravo!!

My dear Zoya,

What a atrong and powerful poem. It's almost like i saw the poem in real life you know. Lived out the happenings. The words you used set such reality into it, ot's almost scary. I am shocked byt it. Amazing write my dear friend:) You never seize to amaze me do you?

I love you zoya:) Alex

Christian Ward
A deep, powerful poem

You already know my stance on this subject, suffice to say its horrific in its entirity,but thanks for bringing it to the attention of those who don't :-)

I love this poem, it brings to focus things that should not, but are ignored by western governments. It is written strongly, and I learned quite a few new things by reading it.

The sinking feeling in my stomach that I sat left with after reading this poem is a pretty good pointer towards the fact that this poem is a fantastic one. Thank you yet again for delivering.


Veld Cooper
The treatment of women and the lack of opportunities for them is sadly prevalent in many parts of the world. This moved me deeply and is so rich in the exotic culture of India! Lovely, Zoya!