The price of a daughter in India

You sold your daughter,
tied her sari tight
and sent her off,
to strangers. The bonds
were there before she
left you. There for
all her new family
to see. Not that
they looked too closely
at her. They were looking
at the new car,
and the fridge,
because that was how much
you had paid them
to take her off your hands.

Your hands are empty now,
and so is her heart.
What a price
you were prepared to pay
to dispose
of the inconvenience
of ‘daughter.’
Not that you can call her that
anymore; she is gone
to others
who should call her daughter,
but they do not.

“Lazy bitch,’
comes more easily
to their lips. They
have no time for her.
Why should they?
You paid them
to take her away.
There was no talk of love.
You did not ask that
they love her.
You gave them a car,
and a fridge, and
all they had to do
was give her a roof
over her head. Love,
now that
will cost more.

Is your daughter worth it?
What daughter?
Well you may ask.
And you will
when there is an accident,
and her sari melts
along with her,
and another daughter
must be found
to take her place
and bring with her
gifts and money.
Such is the price
of a daughter.

I wrote this when I lived in India in the early 90’s. At that time a woman a day burned to death in Delhi and a woman an hour in Gujarat State. These kitchen ‘accidents’ claim more than 100,000 lives in India every year and are sourced in the iniquitous dowry system, which, while banned, remains entrenched.
The husband and mother-in-law are usually responsible but charges are rarely laid and most young women, charred and dying, usually refuse to say who set them alight. Kerosene and nylons saris combined with the attitude to women in India and the dowry system makes for a deadly mix.

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About rosross

Editor, writer, poet.
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