When I opened my eyes,
Your sun-washed face was tense,
‘It’s a girl’, you said,
But your sadness didn’t make sense..
When I started walking,
Your shoulders had stooped down a bit,
I thought it was to hold me from falling,
But it was the burden, wasn’t it?
When I saw my brothers going to school,
You chided me for asking for a slate,
I thought I’d done something wrong,
I should have known it was my fate..
When you gave my brothers more food,
I ate my hunger and slept at night,
Even that couldn’t make you happy,
I just could not do anything right..
When I played with the tattered doll,
You married mine to the other,
I thought you were playing with me,
Before you gave yours to him forever..
When he hit me, abused me, bruised me,
I thought you’d come take me away,
I knew you heard me from across the wall,
That was where I wept all day..
When I screamed that night,
My eyes were wet but no one else cried,
Relief screamed in your silent eyes,
The night your little girl had died.
This poem was written from the perspective of a child bride to mark National Girl Child Day in India (24 January). It was generously shared by our member The Red Elephant Foundation.