Miss


The Women in My Family

The women in my family do not speak.
They are told not to.
They put on bright, red sindoor on their foreheads,
And drape their saris over their heads so they can bow them.

The women in my family gossip in the kitchen.
They are told it's the woman's job to cook.
I watch my grandmother, mother, aunts, and my uncle's new wife gather over the mud stoves.
They sweat profusely from the heat of the open fire and the searing, hot Bangladeshi summer.
But, they don't complain.
It's their job not to.

The women in my family hide their bruises.
They are told that
Women endure.
Women sacrifice.
Women tolerate.
They do not speak out.
They are told not to.

The women in my family give birth to the next generation.
They feed the next generation.
They raise the next generation.
They live their lives through the next generation.
They are told to do so.

I am a woman in my family.
I put on a bright, red graduation gown and raise my head as my mother watches me
graduate.
My mother taught me that's where my head belongs.

I am a woman in my family.
I gossip at school, at work, at parties.
My mother taught me that's where women belong:
independent and on her own.

I am a woman in my family.
I speak out. I fight. I resist.
And I only have these rights
because so many women in my family have lost theirs.

To the women in my family,
I do not know all of your stories,
But, I owe it to you,
For loving me, for raising me, for nurturing me.

To my mother,
I owe it to you.
For giving me a better life.
For all the sacrifices you made and for all the pain you endured.

I'm sorry for the bruises you had to hide.
I am sorry for all the tears you had to spill.
I am sorry for not coming home as often.
I am working my hardest to make sure you never have to work again.

To the women in my family,
You all are my inspiration, my drive, my role models,
You make me believe that
If God existed, she would be a woman.

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