Why I Said Goodbye
This one’s for the community.
A Devadasi speaking:
I’ve knocked on all the doors,
Or I can say on most of them.
Many slammed in my face;
Some never answered.
I’ve pleaded all my life
For a bit of support,
For a bit of mercy,
For a bit of justice.
I’ve stayed in the dark all my childhood.
I never knew that playgrounds existed,
But I played too.
The only playground ever known to me was a bed.
I’ve cried, screamed all my adulthood
As I realized the game was not a good one.
The agony flowed through my veins.
I was taught that this is my religion.
I’ve breathed love all my womanhood.
Love, to me is a different concept.
Love, for me, was with different men.
I’ve felt sorrow in my old age,
When I’d think about how my mother—
Instead of protecting me
And coming to my aid when I screamed—
Told me that I was serving God
While serving those lustful men.
I’ve almost died all my life
And with every passing year—
Becoming anything but human,
Becoming a body: just a female body,
Walking and breathing, not living…
To the extent that
I preferred to live no more.
- Ishita Kothari
Context: “Devadasi system is a religious practice in parts of southern India, including Andhra Pradesh, whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty and requires the girl to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members. They are forbidden to enter into a real marriage” (Chattoraj).
You can read more about it here: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring02/Chattaraj/genesis.html
Imagine today’s world: a place where women have control over their bodies and sexuality, as in they can choose their partners, and more importantly, have the choice to decide if they want a partner or not in the first place. And then imagine such a system still prevailing alongside it. What a shame.