Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.


Yukta Bajracharya

Ujjwala Maharjan

You'd Do Me No Harm by Ujjwala Maharjan and Yukta Bajracharya

Last night you came to me, drunk,

and said, where've I hit you?

With your words? I said,

In places that know no healing.

With your hands and feet and whip and stick,

in places so sore they've stopped bleeding.

So used to your fists,

I flinched when you held my hand

but I let you.

So used to your foul mouth,

I broke down when you kissed me

but I let you.

I took what you gave me and called it


I caged myself and called that


I survived with my silence and called that


Because, that is what They taught me.

They said to me,

embrace the fist because that fist opens up to bring you bun on the table,

choke on the grip, for a while, but recover without a cough because,

that's the grip that will loosen up to shield you.

Give in, give in, give in

because that is what you body does.

Woman, spread your legs

not your wings

scream and plead

don't speak and stand

caress the hand that slapped you

beat you

thrashed you

break down in the arms that strangled you

because that man, that hand, that arm

Will protect you from harm.

They said,

You'd do me no harm.

You said, you'd do me no harm.

You said, you'd do me no harm

so nevermind my broken arm, you'd do me no harm.

You said, you'd do me no harm

so I won't ring the alarm, you'd do me no harm.

You said you'd do me no harm

But that's all that you've done

Is it that easy to forget

What you said just last night

When you scanned through my body

For the marks you'd made on it

In that darkness, didn't I hear you say you were sorry

That you loved me and you'd bring all this to an end

But then


It rains

Your hard-knuckled fists pounding down on my brains

Pouring every bit of mad rage that runs in your veins

Monster, you're anger is never appeased

You could cut me to pieces and still not be pleased

And no matter where I run, you'll still hunt me down

Cause you love me, you need me, you'd do me no harm

By the way, Hey "They"

You see all this, right?

So why don't you say a thing and keep this eerie quiet?

Cause while of all the times you choose Now

To hold your ever-flapping tongue

This man, this hand, this arm -will only learn to do me more harm

And you, what was my fault

Remind me again

Why I deserve all this beating

This torture and pain

What? I put too much or too little sweet in your tea

Was I out for ten seconds more than the magnanimous ten minutes you'd lend me?

Oh was I out being the whore you'd made up in your head

Or was it simply a mistake to wake up from that bed

To see yet another day

You knew one of these days

I'd see the marvel that's me

Who's not as weak or as feeble

As she's made to believe

And while you've always measured your strength with your hard-hitting punches

I long far surpassed yours with my - endurance

But no more

I'm done being the victim

I'm done with this chase

I'll no longer run

But stand up to your face

And may be I've just caught a bit of your insanity

Cause I now know for sure,

You will do me no harm.

I said, you will do me no harm.

Lay down your (fucking) arms; you will do me no harm

I said, you will do me no harm

Go ring your alarms Hun; you will do me no harm.

I said, you will do me no harm

Cause that's all that you've done

And you've done just enough.

The privilege of stories

In your mind's library where you've randomly stacked stories,

there are also two never ending rows of shelves with stories

that are your own.

My eldest aunty says

before shoes became fashionistas' collections,

they meant privilege.

She didn't have them,

went to school without 'em

and got teased about it sometimes.

In her school, instead of tables and benches,

they had long sukuls laid out on the floor in multiple rows

they used to kneel over, come on all fours,

to copy A-B- C's into their notebooks.

The naughty boys behind her,

would sometimes giggle and poke at her bare behind

from under her the frocks she'd overgrown with sharp pencils,

some of which she says, she broke in revenge.

Underwears meant privilege.

And she didn't have them,

Not all the time.

The story of my mother has mostly been about dearth.

She grew up with a lot of absences.


her father

and then everything else that followed after.

She tells me she always had to work, so hard,

finishing up her duties in the kitchen then

shifting to the jyasa as she sat, paleti kasera, for hours with what seemed like no end

bent over a stool with a spread of silver

sharp tools

skills groomed over time on the edge of compulsion

making things - not ever for her own self to adorn

but making things happen,

making lunch and dinner

from whatever was in the kitchen

even when there wasn't anything much.

The only thing my maa, my grandmother, learned how to read as a child,

was poverty and hunger.

She says, on days there was no food in the house,

her mother, my great grandmother played a game with them.

She asked the children - my  maa and her five hungry siblings,

to stay put

and not come up to the kitchen,

'cause anyone who did was out of the game and would not be served any dinner.

So they waited downstairs , gyaani children that they were, listening to their mother serving dinner,

clanging empty ladles on empty plates,

sometimes for as long as an hour.

She says, they would fall asleep like that, to that sound of plates and ladles,

a  sweet lullaby, full of promises - of full plates and full stomachs.

My mother tells me,

back in the days,

eating an egg was a festive affair -once a year during mha puja

that too

if her grandmother was feeling generous.

Buying new clothes was a tough bargain,

first with a strict mother who was stingy -not by choice

and then with the shopkeeper who quoted a high price

my mother couldn't afford.

Even today,

my mother eats every last fibre of meat on the bones,

chews and apple to its slimmest core


has been a skilled teacher.

My baa once told me,

that when he was only 8 and already working for someone else

he was out resting on a grassy field one day, tired from his day's work,

when he found a book and curiously began flipping through its pages

but his sahu came over and rebuked him so hard

"You here to study or work? "

He says he remembers being so embarrassed,

he didn't dare to touch a book for years.

Years later,

I stand here with privileges, my family (my mother) never had.

Privilege, like my baa used to say,

is being able to recognize letters,

and piece them together to read, learn and explore about

anything your heart desired.

Privilege, is misplacing sharpeners and coming home with complaints about how my grandfather's pencil


sharpened to the last nibble of lead,

always wrote so bluntly.

Privilege is learning sharing is caring.

Dearth is knowing it's the only way.

Privilege is this foreign tongue.

Dearth is a mother language we never had to learn.

Privilege is an inheritance from our families

passed down to us as stories.

Dearth is having lived like these stories never happened.

Privilege is getting to let people know that it did

that our stories matter

that we exist.