Tag Archives: Women’s Day


Jyoti Singh Pandey’s horrific rape and brutalization on December 16th, 2012; her subsequent battle for survival and finally her death on December 28th, 2012 have been seared into our memory forever. This young girl’s harrowing and ultimately fatal attack at the hands of those five blood-thirsty, penis-powered, miserable scraps of humankind, has given rise to an entire movement.

Her attack and suffering spurred many candle-light marches and vigils, nation-wide debates, discussions and protests. It brought together women’s rights groups, academics, feminists, students, men and women to come together and formulate a draft that went to the Justice Verma committee. The Justice Verma committe then presented their report to the government.

Another aftermath of Jyoti’s rape and death was the rise of an ‘artistic movement’. And I use the term broadly. A parallel movement along with all the vigils, marches and petitions. A sister movement to “Take Back the Night” initiatives all across India and “One Billion Rising” schedules.

I would like to mention a few here.

Many essays, poems, monologues have been written in the wake of December 16th. Writer, teacher, poet and friend, Sumana Roy wrote a brilliant piece in The Open Magazine about this prolific outpouring of grief, appropriately titled, “Words from this Anger.”

An incredible performance piece that I had heard of and then seen on YouTube is theatre legend, MayaKrishna Rao’s “Walk.”

And then there’s the Fearless campaign. A brilliant initiative by the supremely talented, beautiful, gentle and wise artist, Shilo Shiv Suleiman. Instead of channeling our anger, she urged us to channel our inner strength, latent power and urged us to be FEARLESS. She invited artists, painters, graphic designers to make posters inspired by and including the word ‘Fearless.’ She was hoping for 150. She’s now close to 200 and counting! Yes. The response was, to put it mildly, incredible. The works of art that are still poring in are awe-inspiring. Some make your jaw drop, some move you to tears, some make you want to spread your wings and fly! Many will make you want to smile; many will make you want to dance; many will make you want to stare at them for hours — all of them will move you. The posters are now travelling all over India and have gone international as well. The exhibit in Singapore’s Madder Moon gallery closes today, in fact. You can see for yourself, the gorgeous artwork here as well as here.

Now, I can’t paint or draw, much to my very great disappointment. I have all these posters dancing in my head, vividly, but I can’t translate them onto paper. And that makes me sad. However, the sheer beauty and power of the Fearless initiative, along with the Take Back the Night programs, did inspire me to write something.

Today being Woman’s Day, I thought it fitting to share my poem with you. More power to you all. Nurture your Inner Goddess. Love yourself. I promise you, you’re worth it.


Permission, please
to dance.
Permission to speak up;
to be heard.
Permission to marry who I want,
or not marry at all.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to write,
to paint,
to create.
Permission to study.
Permission to ride the bus
without having your dick press into my back.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to take the bigger piece of fish.
Permission to run with the boys.
Permission to sing.
Permission to be a doctor,
an engineer,
a bartender,
a model.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to be loved as much as my brother.
Permission to live.
Permission to not choke on your bile,
give in to your lust,
be used as your pawn.
Permission to wear what I like.
Permission to pierce my tongue.
Permission to walk the streets at night.

Permission to wear a burkha
and not have you call me oppressed.
Permission to show off my cleavage
and not have you call me a slut.
Permission to oil my hair
and wear it in two plaits
and not have you call me a behenji.
Permission, please,
to look the way I want
and not be called
too fat,
too skinny,
too hot,
too ugly.

Permission to get married
and not have you call me bechaari.
Permission to get married and not have kids
and not have you call me heartless.
Permission to leave my kids at home and go to work
and not have you call me ambitious
like it was a dirty word.

Permission, please to dance.
Permission to walk the streets at night
and not be called a whore.

Permission to love;
one boy
or many along the way;
or maybe a girl
or two.
Permission to not love at all.
Permission to love only myself.

Permission to dance.
With boys.
On the dance floor.
Or alone.
On the dance floor.
And to not have you touch me
Permission to sing.
Or off-key.
Or both.
Or softly,
To myself;
sitting alone
in my city,
with my tunes for company.


Permission to live.
Permission to breathe.
Permission to be fun.
Permission to be fearless.
Permission to be free.

Permission to walk the streets at night.

I shouldn’t have to ask.
And I never will again.
Because I’m taking it all back.

I’m going to be fearless,
I’m going to be free.

So take that
and get used to it,
because above all that,
I’m going to be me
I don’t need


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