Women's Education by Bharathidasan

Women need literacy
To run the household.
They ought to be educated
To bring up children well.

Women should acquire knowledge
To guard the world
Learning helps women
Widen the arc of scholarship.

Illiterate women
Are barren land! Grass may grow
On this surface:
But not ideal children.
The educated woman
Is a field well prepared.
Wise progeny spring up here:
I need not repeat this truth.

Remember, it is common skill
For man and woman
To pilot an aeroplane,
Survey the vast ocean.
Male chauvenism
Has weakened the globe today.
No wonder then,
Women find their freedom gone.

Come forward to execute
With a golden hand
The jobs assigned to you.
At the same time
Press forward to gain freedom
With the other flower-like hand.
Such is my conviction:
The illiterate woman will never glow.

It is wrong to say
That women alone should drudge
As cooks at home
And cleaners all day.
That would be a happy day
When men too take up such tasks.
Is it shameful to cook?
The cook creates enjoyment!

Cooking food is Indeed
The nurturing of precious life.
Life is not mere money;
Nor is it martial prowess.
Stoking; the stove fire
And creating taste in the pot.
They serve food with love.
Such food is vital to existence.

There is an unwritten law
In Tamil Nadu that cookery
Is the inalienable duty
Of the poor housewife.
Alas, that such drudgery
Is fit only for mothers.
Universal women’s education
Alone can remove this unfair rule.

Translated by Prema Nandakumar

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