Khawla Zainab


The number of times we hear on the road

Oh it’s a woman driving that’s why.

The number of times I hear in my house

Your father eats first and then I.

The number of times I see them tell her

You had it coming; your dress was too high.

We keep listening, we snub, and we sigh

We say it’s a shame, even disagree but continue to tell the same lie

Its okay, it’s fine. Things have changed; we’re not the same anymore

Your grandmother couldn’t leave home but I studied and you can definitely fly

Do what your heart pleases but be sure no one watches you come home late because the neighbours they‘re sly.

We care too much, we live for others, we look for our existence elsewhere.

We’re shrinking everyday when we make space to accommodate the constant stare

On the streets, in the lanes, at the dinner table, in the park and everywhere


They tell me to study, eat and rest well. Study, learn and grow well

Degree at 21, marriage at 22 and family at 25 that should be swell!

You’re free, you’re independent believe me but before you make a choice to your old man please do tell


Equality, protest, revolution and feminism

Now, that’s a bad word for tender women souls

You must be kind, gentle, soft and unheard. This is how it’s meant to be

You must have heard of gender roles


A young girl, in a town like ours, suffered for 2 months, violated not just once but repeatedly

She was burnt and not just literally,

In the bus, for hours at end, not just her body but her soul was tarnished, unspeakably

Not because she dressed a certain unacceptable way and no, not because she welcomed this inhuman atrocity.


She only had a dream, she only thinks of changing the world, she is as strong as strong can be.

She lit a flame. The fuel for the inferno now in our hands should burn, not just today but eternally


(Supplied by Vipin Tripathi)

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