He tells me life is hard being a man.
I look at him and think of the pepper spray in my bag
and how unsafe I feel
if I forget to carry it even for one day,
the curfew of 8 pm set at home,
the man in today’s morning bus
who had ground his hips on my shoulder
under the pretext of it being too crowded,
my own friends
who told me I got this job only because I was pretty,
my relatives who keep telling me
I can’t have a settled life on my own
if I don’t find a man to marry,
who still has some of my naked photographs
(what if he tried to blackmail me someday?),
the cramps I’m assailed with every month
because my body feels safe enough to bear a baby —
whether or not I want it,
every man and every boy who eyes me with lust,
and every woman silently judging me if my clothes are too tight.
I feel all this,
and I haven’t even lived half my life -
I haven’t married,
I haven’t had a man force himself upon me
night after night demanding sex,
because it is my duty as a wife to pleasure him,
I haven’t moved into another house full of strangers
whom I must now address as ‘mother’ and ‘father’,
I haven’t had children of my own -
toddlers depending on me for nourishment,
I haven’t started a family,
I haven’t yet been responsible
for any life other than mine.
There is so much more struggle to live through,
so much more pain to bear
And yet, when I think of all these,
I look him in the eye and I smile.
‘Yes,’ I say,
‘I can only imagine how tough it must be to be a man.’
PS: If you like what I write, you might enjoy some of my best poems which are curated in my book: Stolen Reflections. Please do leave a review if you enjoyed the book.