The Awakened Women by Bharathidasan

On the Western horizon
The russet sun floated in a golden flood.
A damsel with gleaming eyes
Stood there like a dancing peacock.

A boy belonging to a rich family
Came hither to pluck fruits
Overwhelmed by spasms of passion
He launched upon a speech:

"The brilliance of the light beyond
May be eaten up by dark clouds:
Sunshine may vanish in a moment!
It is well known that a change
Comes the very next moment!
But the love that springs in a clear heart
Does not fear the swoop of a vulture!
It does not dry up when an army attacks it.

Just lend me a kiss, darling.
What is the use of living alone!
You have entered my heart! As gold.
As flower, you stand before me!” he said
"Just a word”, she replied. ”what may it be?”
”I care not for an illiterate yokel”.
"Oh, I am a scholar several times ever”.
She laughed and proceeded:

"O fine scholar! A question to you.
Have women freedom?” she asked.
“They must wait till it is given”.
“What if it is wrested by me?”
“That is contrary to Dharma
For a maid to act without parental consent".
'You ask me for an embarace.
How then shall I act without asking them?"

That spoilt son of the rich said:
"You are ignorant. In this matter
Of choosing one’s groom, women can act
As their heart leades them”.
"Then my heart is given elsewhere",
She cut short his preamble.
'You are missing pleasure. I shall give
All the joy"’ and he drew closer.


She too approached him.
He mistook it for acquiescence.
In a flash with sword in her right hand,
Her left gesturing immediate dismissal,
Brows raised high, fieiy-eyed, she spoke,
"I told you my heart is set
Upon another! You dared to trespass!
Come an army, pure love never alters!”

Our pampered young man took to his heels
And came to me to breathe in peace
“Did a hundred tigers chase you?
Are you escaped from an assassin?
Why have you been running fast?”
I asked him He related his tale. Having heard
I needed ten million hearts to contain
 My joy. Laughing, I then said:

"Pampered fool! Today women
Are not underprivileged. They are awake!
Don’t speak ill of that killer-sword!
As you could hot discern another rapier
In your own lovely, docile wife.
You wished to play with other girls!
Evil fellow, get thee gone
Enter your conscience, go!” He slunk away


Translated by Prerna Nandakumar

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