Three Daughters

Molecules 1

Three Daughters

“I am a curséd man,” he said, with full marks for
the -ed, “because,” he said, cross-legged, dhoti
both wrinkled and taut, “I am the father of
three daughters.”

His hands followed the line of the shrug,
then sank like the smile beneath the black float
of  mustache, as,
from my opposite banquette, I tried to maintain an attitude
of intellectual exploration–
”don’t you love your daughters?”

“I love them too much,”meaning in my understanding
of Indian English–‘sure’–
but “meaning,’ he went on, “I must work all the days of my life
to make their dowries–”

The dowry was the price he would pay for
having his undoubtedly hard-working girls taken off his hands,
which pinched the air, long-fingered,
as if plucking words from the landscape–
and I too smiled sadly, this still a more encouraging discussion
than the one I normally had with men in Indian trains,
which always started with whether I was married
and ended somehow in my asking the most important quality in a wife,
a question which they answered without a beat–
(sometimes through teeth stained red with betel nut,
other times the teeth not stained, but always showing)–

I can’t help thinking today of that curséd man, sitting in the
amber light that fixed that train car even as it traversed
a subcontinent, as I read
of the poor cursed woman in Delhi who strangled her three
young daughters, “submitting” as the headline said, “to despair.”

Reading next of the proposed government budget in my own country–
where dowries once were also part
of the barter of women–and where girls are still often enough
discarded, though we are advanced enough to discard boys
about as much, the idea behind all the cuts for women and children
being some notion that if women are just kept flat on their backs,
families will stay intact–

Look, I’m not saying that these things–Indian dowries and the GOP– are
actually connected, except that they both make me sick,
sick of the trade in women, sick
at the base of a womb that held two daughters, sick at the heart
of a third.


A very drafty poem that is simply a rant going about my head.   I appreciate that it may not truly be a poem.  The drawing above is by a friend of mine, Diana Barco, taken from my book of poems, Going on Somewhere.  The photograph below is mine, taken a couple of years ago in Ahmedabad, in India–all rights reserved by Diana and me!  


Explore posts in the same categories: news, poetry

Tags: , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

7 Comments on “Three Daughters”

  1. L. Edgar Otto Says:

    Insightful, even controversial essential for debate, precious children that should not be in dispute… as always.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    As long as women are viewed as objects, not people different than but equal to males, there is behavior like this. Religion I’m afraid, is the biggest encourager and enforcer of this stereotype, but what frightens me is that it is(or has been) present in almost every society, and so must be something somehow that these societies *want.* And by societies, I mean the men in them. Very disheartening, because I like men very much. As a rant, this is excellent and well-reasoned as well as emotional, and as a poem–I would call it more a prose poem of great skill.

  3. And with society changing as it does today.. it will change sooner or later but it seems that men (I hope it’s some men) seem to think about their ego instead of what’s best for all… (men and women).

  4. Susan Says:

    Rant away, when it comes out in narrative poem/stories like this! I had many associations while reading that made this very present and touched my heart. The poem barrels along slowly like the Indian train and the universal train of change.

  5. Sherry Marr Says:

    I applaud every word.

  6. M Says:

    Never got back to you about NaPoWriMo. I’ve been kind of conserving (not that the last few posts noticed) hoping to have the energy to participate again. Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll be around, regardless… ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You know, I’ve not thought of it much at all, and not saved myself–I think it will be okay. I would be sad not to do it, I think, so will do it. I am a little nervous as I am always so frazzled, but I’m trying just not to worry. It will be great if you participate–no pressure!–but I am always so happy to read your work. k.

      On Sun, Mar 29, 2015 at 3:21 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: