Lily Swarn’s ‘Fe male’: A Telling Critique of Anger at the Marginalised Suppressed Females by Manab Manik

Lily Swarn’s ‘Fe male’: A Telling Critique of Anger at the Marginalised Suppressed Females by Manab Manik
Lily Swarn is a powerful shining mirror that mirrors all aspects of society be it virtue or vice, good or bad. The poem titled ‘Fe male’ with a little space puts emphasis on the suppression of girls though in reality they play multiple functions — mother, sister, daughter, wife, lover, friend, teacher, doctor, warrior, nurse, minister, idol maker, poet and so on. In the second, third and fourth stanzas the violent and heart-rending images bring out the vulgar and naked picture of society where females are liquidated through the acts of infanticide. In some remote villages of India including Uttarpradesh within a year no female was born according to data recorded in hospitals. This is planned murder of the girl children before their birth. The poem may be reminder of it too. In villages of Indian subcontinent especially in poor families girls are killed after birth or before birth. The stray dogs’ dragging out a strangled baby (may be of city and town areas as dustbins are found there) also brings out another dark picture of cities and towns where baby girls are killed. It is also surprising that a woman (terrified) kills her own daughter. And she is compelled to do this. Who compels her to kill her girl child, is silent. We can easily guess that it is the males who direct her to do this. From feminist point of view this poem reminds us of Kate Millett’s ‘Sexual Politics’ and Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’ where these two feminist writers argue how patriarchy reduces and marginalises the females. Then comes the poet’s appraisal of the girls as ‘wondrous creation’ , ‘blessed being’. She expresses the little girls’ playing activities, clinging dad’s finger, reciting poetry and so on. Indeed, nothing can be more joyous, more heavenly than this. Woman is not in barrier but has become warrior as she becomes pilot and rules the entire country. In the last three stanzas the poet appeals and advises all to let a girl live according to her own sweet will. She is goddess Durga or Chandi. She ought to be nurtured and protected. Lily Swarn deseves eulogy from all for bringing this issue and suggesting remedies. She is really a soothing soul to the sufferers.
‘Fe male”
‘Beyond the bickering and nagging
Above the hackneyed paraphernalia of living
Go and get a life my child ‘
She told her yet unborn daughter
Whispering furtively to her womb
In a land where girls are unwelcome
In a village where the wells and rivers see a foetus float
In the darkness
Where dustbins are rummaged by dogs
That sometimes drag out a strangled baby
Or perhaps a poisoned one
Tied up in a rag and left in the filth
By a terrified mother who was forced to kill
Like a female serpent
Her own life blood
With her own two hands
She let it spill
This wondrous creation
This blessed being
Lisping out her doll’s name
While clinging to her dad’s finger
Reciting out poetry in her blue school tunic
Her two braids swinging !
Growing up like a lissome poplar tree
Enchanting the boys with her glance
Flying jumbo airplanes one day
While ruling the country the next
Let her live
Rejoice in her life
Give her the wings
Or else she will grow her own
She has the power
She is Durga incarnate
Fear her strength
She is Chandi when troubled
Love her for she deserves it
Pamper her for she is your life force
Worship her for she is worthy of adoration
Protect her for she nurtured you as a baby
Don’t kill her in the womb
She will come to haunt you
As Mother ,sister , daughter , wife, lover, friend
While her stone statue glares out at you in the temple’s sanctum sanctorum
As the goddess you bow to !
Copyright Lily Swarn 9.11.2017
Manab Manik
Manab Manik is a bilingual poet, short story writer, translator and reviewer whose poems and stories have been published in India, Australia, Canada, USA, Belgium both online and print. His poetry books ‘Dreams Shattered and Other Poems’ and ‘My Poetic Offering’ published in 2019 have got great critical responses in India and beyond. His stories like Wilde’s and Tagore’s draw tears of the readers. Recently Manab is teaching English literature at Mugbasan Hakkania High School about 70 miles away from Kolkata in India.

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