Didi, they named me after you ‘Dopdi’. They say, you had five husbands! That must have been a lot of care and food. I harvest grains at sunset my hands hard- baked like charred bamboos. They say, your husbands were great warriors I learned to use my own scythe and hatchet my own knife and arrow and bow , learned to strike like a panther in the dark, hunger, two fires quivered in my eyes. They say, you lived a year in hiding after some twelve years of exile I have lived incognito all my life careful not to respond to my own name my days a barefoot walk on dry leaves echoed like the sounds of breaking bones -crunch- crunch-crunch. My struggles began like water , smooth, alluring dousing fire. I reigned like a queen in my hideouts , in the uninhabited forests crafting my own language of warning of assurance , the black soil of Champabhumi running in my thick blood. When I ululated, throwing my arms up to the sky it shook the world deeper than the conch calls of your land. They say, you could not be disrobed that god supplied you with countless sarees to cover your shame more than your five husbands could- it is a craft of storytelling is it not ? We’ve told many such stories to our comrades to lift their spirits up. When I stared up at the sky with my raw bitten breasts my torn nipples - the clouds tore apart and the silent moon only stared back then hid itself. I did what you did not. I vomited out their robe under the sun. Didi, can you tell me how many raped me in our land? And you? Based on Mahashweta Devi’s story with the same title
Zinia Mitra is an Associate Professor and Director of Centre for Women’s Studies, University of North Bengal. Her poems have been published in National and International journals including Contemporary Literary Review, Kavya Bharati, East Lit. Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi) , Asian Signature, Teesta Review, Setu, Poetry Potion. Her translations have been published in books and journals including Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi. Her books include Indian Poetry in English : Critical Essays, Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: Imagery and Experiential Identity, Twentieth Century British Literature: Reconstructing Literary Sensibility (co-edited), Interact (co-edited), The Concept of Motherhood in India: Myths, Theories and Realities , Fourth Wave Feminism, Social Media and (Sl)Activism.
Her poetry volume Some Words Never Sleep has been published by Indie Blu(e).
Her translations have been published in books and journals including Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi). She is on the editorial board of Teesta Review.
Zinia Mitra writes from Siliguri, Darjeeling.