In this evocative poem Smita compares the two worlds of her grandmothers and her’s. A powerful woman-centric poem. 

Both my grandmothers

Were married off in their teens;

Bhuvaneshwari at fourteen,

Damyanti at fifteen,                                                                              

Both, to men already married once.


Both my grandmas

Wiped off their tears

Somewhere on the long road

From native village to new home,

Grit their teeth,

Gave up their childhood.


Both my grandmothers

Fetched water in brass pots

From the river, from the nearest spring,

A mile away and up, up, up

A steep rugged slope.

Both my grandmothers

Gave birth at sixteen

And lost that first child . . .


Both my grandmothers                                                                                  

Managed large joint families,

Suffered at the hands of

Illiterate and cruel housemates,

Both my grandmums

Usually ate after

The goats and cows had been fed . . .


The eyes of my grandmas

Lighted up, each time I

Stood first in class,

Won a prize for Quizzing,

Singing, Physics.

Both my grandmums

Would have me become an

Indira Gandhi or Lata Mangeshkar . . .


Within the span of a century

I have cast off roles

Assigned to grandmas.

I cook when I want to

I clean when I feel like                                                             

Hostile people don’t bother me.

I worry of Libya

Talk at length on corruption

I trek, I travel, I drive, I invest

I buy cars, land, jewellery,

I write,

Poems commemorating


Pix from Net

Smita Agarwal

Smita Agarwal

Smita Agarwal is a poet-critic and the author of Wish-granting Words, Poems, Mofussil Notebook and Marginalized: Indian Poetry in English. She has won awards from the British Council and The Poetry Society, India. She has been a writer in Residence at the universities of Stirling, and Kent. She is Professor of English and Director, Centre for Women’s Studies, Allahabad University, and a professional singer with samples of her songs available on You Tube and
Smita Agarwal

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