Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.


Melizarani T.Selva

Excerpts from the solo show "Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee"


I am the woman who writes the powerful sentences that you only dare listen but never say 
I am the woman who dreams of the dreams you consider a taboo to even let linger and stay
I am the woman who will find a way when they "try" to give you their best shot
I am the woman who will actually multi-task and give you everything I've got

I am the woman who saunters into the room in a high-waisted skirt and cleavage showing top 
		that will make your manhood scream and eyes pop 
I am the woman who will give you a reason to stare and be slammed for sexual harassment 
And when the management does nothing to stop you, I'll send you sweet flowery cards with 
		passive aggressive statements
		till you call your mother and seek for forgiveness

I am the woman who will make you believe in God 
		or some divine cosmic energy force or the universe
		because if you cross my path you will need a miracle 

I am the woman who will get down on her knees
		and fix that broken printer 
		and will need no assistance for transportation
For I am the woman who will drive you wild

I am the woman, the reason that "glass ceiling" exists
		otherwise you'd be landscaping the sidewalk and not some fancy executive.
Fret not over inconsistent charity campaigns and CSR effort
I am the woman who will give your organisation a heart

I am the woman whose figure is shaped by reality not magazine covers
Whose spirit is toughened by unreasonable silence and rejection letters
My combination of being Indian and woman 
		is now cursed to fail and be deadly

You see, my Master's Degree and youth sacrificed work experience; 
		are just mere words that fill a column in the CV 
While you regard my certificates as fancy coloured paper
and you told me, my sun kissed brown skin passed down through generations of hard labour 
needs to be concealed 
		by a thick layer of foundation, powder and blusher

or else you fear the audience will die of disgust and blindness 
or even take to the streets to protest the appearance of a brown spot in their television 
Do not photograph me in a saree for your national advertisements
If you do not want me to read the national news
		walaupun saya fasih dan petah bertutur dalam Bahasa Melayu

Or should I say Bahasa Malaysia because you made it mandatory for me to get an A
Patriotic but not very useful in the end, I'll say!

I am the woman, the gadis, the ponnu, the xiao jie that you need to represent
		but due to "unforeseen circumstances", you won't.
So if anyone, anyone walks through that door and asks for my description
Tell them I am the woman they know deep down is, 

The Woman. 


Maharani was crafted for a spoken word cabaret titled 'Tongue Tied', performed at Urbanscapes 2013.
Harmonium plays a melody. Maharani dances to the rhythm; her back is facing the crowd. Tabla beats accompany
her every move as she spins around and struts to the side of the stage, teasing the crowd with her footsteps coming
close to them and running coyly back to the centre of the stage.
They cut me, from the finest silk they could find Adorned me with jewelled expectations ornate obligations I am goddess, queen, wife and mistress all in a single body they worship me when crops don't flower and fruit they sing me praises and promises for boons for rain, in exchange they carve my name into a country But when in vain they chain my soul, to holy matrimony Sigh... I will tell you my story about the string of broken hearts, I wear around my ankles Seven, in total deadly sins of my hollow lovers, I danced to please to appease their desires and daydreams Come to me now, hear me hear me on how I came to be, the queen of all queens, Maharani I was born to a family who preferred a son Appa believed I was the manifestation of all sins he had done In his past life and present He named me Karma And I was arranged to marry the highest bidder So that they could afford college for my brother At sixteen, I was a wife to an army Captain Who lost his right leg in the war He kept me to keep his balance I was the shape of the trophy he never got and the colour of badges securing his insecurity You see, he was not very able Fuelled by jealousy, towards all the other men who looked at me Oh! He was always angry. Shouting and yelling, on top of his voice He confined me to the house telling me I was ugly and misbehaving So, I had to tie my hair into a bun cook and clean Till one day, the kitchen "accidentally" caught fire while he was asleep it's a good thing I had the house keys but I forgot that he was locked in. The next day, I went to the market seated between the brinjal seller and the milk man there was this strong fellow carrying 10 sacks of rice, in one hand and a guitar on his back I thought he was very dashing He thought I was very pretty Even composed a melody to ask for my hand that Sunday at his church, he was my husband and the wedding band! A rockstar, he was strumming the heartstrings of every young ladki in town I didn't mind, for he always came home to me Even when he was feeling low; he was always high I thought music intoxicated him, till I found the real reason why He promised to never do cocaine, or alcohol, ever again but then my gold bangles went missing and my mother's earrings too I asked, he called it 'In. Vest. Ment' but I didn't know he was a fraud said the needles in his skin brought him closer to God "Haiyo, only little bit darling. Little bit," he said So I helped him get a little more but little plus little became too much So sad I was, when I buried him as such. I tried to find something to do but to read and write, I had no clue till Khan from Kashmir, came to the library wore a long blue kaftan and recited verses of poetry My guru, he was, kindly and wise, through Tagore and Rumi I was his humble student during the day and his modest wife at night Together we built a house on his words with metaphors for pillars and a grammatically solid roof He changed my name to Rani when I learnt to recite too. Oh my sweet love for him how he took my breath away Alas, not with his soft lips but his hard hands left scars on my face I had embraced thorns before but this flower wounded me, behind closed doors I cried till I had no tears left when the crooked book shelf I leaned on fell atop him and crushed his spine My dry eyes made it easy to restore all other book binds. I had not seen pass the Himalayas or the horizons beyond my motherland till William arrived on a jet plane His fair skin was a milk flow of memories his blue eyes showed deeper seas as he mapped out countries with the symphony of his accent He said I was the most exotic of all through mouthfuls of curry He could never pronounce my name So, it was "Hey Baby, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" like it was the same Because he said I was his one and only Rani Then, his other Rani called from London two kids, also he tried to hide, So I made him his favourite curry Two spoons of turmeric, one spoon of rat poison and a pinch of salt And he never left the dining table but it really wasn't my fault. Inspector Sir came knocking and suspecting asking why my garden was cemetery I could never give him all the answers so, I said "Yes.", when he blackmailed me to marry his snoring, drooling and his weak will Called me a Goddess, he worshipped my body but had no love for me He replaced his passion with a blue pill and I replaced myself with a snake in our bed to remind him of how hard, he never was I was tired of all this ordinary men so I went to the palace to be the Sultan's courtesan He loved my dancing ruled the country, at the tap of my feet I was his queen to be Then, he said he had to marry another woman because I was not made from noble blood Not the heir to the throne just the heir to his lap So, I stabbed, him twenty five times one for every year of my life. Every wife, in the world has entertained the thought of getting rid of her husband, at least once For me, it was seven times Wait, one, two, three, four, five six, Arrey! There were only six! I was never really good at Mathematics *searches the crowd and points to a man in the audience* You! You want to teach me? You can be my Number Seven! *points at another man* or you, "Will you marry me?" Yes? No? Maybe? Well if you change your mind, you know where to find me. *laughs and dances off stage* No men were harmed during the production of this poem.