Adritanaya Tiwari

I've never heard them ask a boy
to know his limits.
I've never heard them say to a boy
that his anatomy on display,
brings them dishonour.
When they --
talk to boys/talk of boys/talk for boys,
they speak of an invisible light force
that leads their legacy.
They mention his safety,
because the worst thing,
that could happen to him,
is death,
and they can't cope
with the loss of a son.
They measure his value in
life, years - priceless.
They measure the man he will be,
by the broadness of his shoulders,
the heaviness in his voice, and
the ego in his heart that they worked so
hard to maintain
over the last centuries.

When they -
talk to girls/talk of girls/talk for girls,
they speak of a living porcelain doll,
with no other purpose but to stay intact.

They mention
their girl's or any other's safety
like a matchstick thrown over
a pool of kerosene,
for the worst thing that could happen
to a girl is birth.

And the worst thing that could happen
to them is the loss of honour that
depends on their daughter.

Honour that somehow lies
on the spreading of her legs
and it doesn't matter how it happened,
with a gun to her head,
a knife to her throat,
with her consent or without,
for the worst thing
that could happen has happened.

They measure her value
in virginity and obedience,
and don't dare to mention
the woman she could become.

They do not measure,
the fullness of her body,
the sparkle in her eye,
or the voice that speaks her mind.

They do not measure,
because the knowledge of
certain dimensions,

does not dwell well

with the opposite sex.

And since boys will be boys,

they keep their girls in cages,

where they can keep out

the things she doesn't need.

Sworn to protect

the flower she holds

in the name of honour,

only letting in

a man deemed worthy

when she is of age,

and when they believe,

the burden has been passed

onto another,

to deal with however they please.

It's not their honour

anymore, after all.

The worst thing

that could happen to them

is the wound of dishonour

and they would never

let a little girl get in the way.

Adritanaya Tiwari is a dental intern from India. Her work has been in Nightingale and Sparrow magazine, All Ears, Ayaskala, Esthesia magazine, and others. You can find her on Twitter @adrillusioned.