FEATURE: READING HOUR/LITANY, A POEM


Litany: Published in The Reading Hour

Don’t.
Don’t dislodge that face veil, that head covering.
Don’t sit with your thighs apart.
Don’t refuse to open those thighs for him.
Don’t let your eyes dance.
Don’t let your voice lilt.
Don’t lock gazes. With anyone.
Don’t forget to cover your mouth when you laugh.
Oh, and don’t smile so much.
Don’t tilt that chin upwards.
Don’t wear short skirts.
Don’t bare your arms.
Don’t refuse to marry where they want you to marry.
Don’t go out to the fields before daybreak, however badly you want to.
Don’t go out onto the road after sunset.
Don't question khap decisions. And don't eat chowmein.
Don’t go to a pub, any pub.
Don’t drink anything but water. Don’t drink water on some days.
Don’t be seen with strange men.
Don’t be sassy.
Do you ask what sassy means?
Don’t let those anklets tinkle, don’t let those bangles jingle.
Don’t let that bindi glitter.
Don’t dance, don’t sing, don’t gesticulate so much.
Don’t voice that opinion.
Don’t hit that `like` button.
Don’t stand out. In any way.
Don’t take up too much space.
Don’t hold up half the sky.
And yes, don’t give birth to girls.
Just don’t.

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