​she walks alone,


barefoot in the paddies of rice,


breaking her back for some precious grains.


she walks alone,


in jo’burg town, with a black eye,


smacked around by him the previous painful night.


she walks alone,


in the streets of neon hazed manila,

in the villages and in the small towns,


along the pristine hedges of rotten london,


on the crowded pavements of lonesome new delhi,

in the alleyways of twisted and rotten karachi,


across the rolling plains of the vast bounteous pampas,


over the winding back-ways of the sloping and grimy favelas,


on the glittering pavements of rich and sweetly-scented sick jeddah,


through the blindingly false boulevards of that sad los angeles town.


she walks alone,


bearing the burden of mother and daughter

of cook and sweeper and wife and mistress and punching-bag,


she walks alone,


through your streets and mine,


standing up as she is beaten more down,


loving a little as the bruises on her face turn purple,


feeding the little ones with morsels of hastily cooked beans.


she walks alone,


in factories and in mills and in buses,


in schools and in brothels and in places in-between.


she walks alone,


staying alive on the alms of the ‘charitable’,


violated by those who from the pulpit preach.


she walks alone,


my sister and yours,


my mother and yours too,


my lover and your beloved as well.


she walks alone,


caged by society in its invisible prison,


a slave of norms and culture and religion and caste,


she walks alone,


but she is the conscience of me and you,


screaming at us silently in hunger and despair,


she walks alone,


and though fearful of you men she may seem,


be warned that she may not forever be this alone,


for she too dreams and thinks and believes,


for she too needs and wants and loves and weeps,


in the silent night of complacency while impotent mankind sleeps,


and she too will rise and in rising slay,


the beasts that in your callous hearts prowl and lay,


and she too will demand her rightful place,


for every mother and sister and lover and daughter has a real, human face …

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