Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.


Aanisha Cuttilan


91,000 rupees

That's 700 US Dollars

That's 2800 gumballs

That's 2 xbox 360s

That's 3 months

of my salary savings

91,000 rupees

That's the price of 3 unmarked A level papers

That's 4 hearts broken

That's 2 pairs of hopeful eyes, now downcast

That's 1 person's dreams shattered

91,000 rupees

That's a tear stained piece of paper

That's a week wondering where you went wrong

That's a bright future, now full of storm clouds

91,000 rupees is

An organisation of thieves

emptying pockets and dreams

to feed the ever-hungry abyss

that is their dark, rotting hearts

Like they enjoy crushing hope

Like they enjoy oppressing the young

Like they have the right

to give us a paper with 4 Us

and tell us

it will determine our future

Rob us like you can brand us

F for Fool; I refuse to be a grade on a paper

that some man in a far off land

marked me to be

Watch as we defy the system

The generation of the great rebellion

Watch as we

Write poetry

Join rowing clubs

Paint the walls of your institution : Sunshine

Watch as we

Refuse to conform to the

"Failures" you branded

across our foreheads

We will make that D stand for Determined

E for still Excelling

F for Fuck your shit,

I'm still going places.

We will keep our chins held high,

Rage against your ignorance,

We will never stop rebelling against this system you try to fit us into

We will be oddballs, free thinkers, artists; happy!

You will be old and frail and you will wish

You didn't ignite your own ruination.


I loved him.

His brown eyes and large hands

that held me too tight sometimes

His wanting that would turn me to stone

and the cold I felt when he held me - I loved


It wasn't uncommon

when a loud and resounding 'no'

clawed its way up my throat

but sound failed at my lips

my hands shaking too hard

to grasp the steering wheel of control

my mind reeling too fast

to separate right from wrong

and the only echo of refusal

screaming out in my wide and frightened eyes

but left unnoticed

by lustful hands.

I kept telling myself I loved him

for far too long, I'm afraid

That I'd give anything to keep him happy

Little knowing, my dignity

and self respect

were part of the package.

In the last stages

of an abusive relationship

I fought to break free

And freedom I found

Too familiar with the fact that

refusal may have died at my lips

but demons were born within

In the deepest crevices of my being

they reached with dark hands

to claw at my sanity.

Listening to my story

you must want to tell me

I was young and na´ve and stupid

That I didn't know

That I should have known.

But truth is,

even if you had told me

I wouldn't have fully comprehended

the depth of sexual coercion

I wouldn't have fully comprehended

that rape was not just forced

but it was also

what was happening to me

not until the unforgiving chains

of experience pulled at me

dragging me down

trapping me in the cynical darkness of my


blaming me for mistakes

I should have known better than to make

Making regret stem like a weed

That crawled into the happiness of my soul

And began to eat away at the sunshine

Engulfing me in an endless nothing

That spanned for months

A nothing that I did not know to fight

That did not want to

But regret is a piteous place to dwell in

And the pain from the past is also experience

Though scars run too deep

You must not forget, beauty flows endlessly

Though you were once preyed upon

By insipid vultures

You are strong

You are important

And you will fight to break free

and it's okay

To say no


It's okay to refuse to be used

Or abused as a tool

As an object

You've got to know, you matter.

And no one's going to make you

Any less than you are.


To be a true and honest Sri Lankan man,

you need to make pedestrian women feel

as uncomfortable as you possibly can.

Honk your horns at her. Wolf whistle.

Let her see the lust and longing ,

as you slowly undress her with your eyes,

when you sit across her in a train.

Do this for the entirety of the ride and

make no attempt to conceal any extruding body parts because

You're  man!

When walking past pretty girls on the street,

be sure to subtly lean in and whisper something dirty in her ear like,

"Hey baby, nice ass", and keep walking.

When travelling with friends,

be sure to divert all your attention to a singular by standing woman

and make subtle comments about her appearance.

Be sure she hears. Be sure you laugh as loud as you could.

And if any of the above happens to your mother or sister,

be sure to hunt that asshole down and make him pay through his teeth.

Dear Sri Lankan boys,

My body is not a public commodity.

My assets are not yours to savour.

Dear Sri Lankan boys,

You are the reason a man with good intentions can't approach a woman

because he'd only be greeted by a sceptic glare

or the occasional slap across the face

You are the reason women are so afraid

to accept a kind word, a helpful gesture,

without being instantly suspicious and wary.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to yell at a man

trying to grab, grope or sneak a peak

I can't tell you how many times I've had to stand there

Silently frothing,

as I felt irregular protrusions against my back

because my protests will only backfire

as ridicule and ignorance.

There will be no defence 'cause boys will be boys,

just trying to have some fun,

But let me assure you, sir,

My body is not your play toy.

Dear Sri Lankan men,

You need to teach your sons how to treat women

before restricting your daughters from living their lives

That it does not matter if my jeans are too tight,

my sleeves too short, or my makeup too heavy,

I am a woman.

You need to stop defining us like we're part of the furniture

Like I'm a punching bag, a window,

A toilet to take all your shit.

I am more than my ass or these breasts I was cursed with

I am a person

With the right to wrap my hands around your damned throat

if you ever touch me again.

And then there will be no defence

I will need no sympathy from bystanders

too narrow minded to stop street harassment

Because girls will be girls, doing what we have the right to

Protect ourselves.