A Letter to the Voices in Your Head

Robyn Green ’16
SMITH COLLEGE, NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA

You become a woman the moment you understand that
Knowing you won’t care later, doesn’t make it hurt less now
A real woman won’t tiptoe through a minefield
But stomp triumphantly,
Uprooting grenades and hearts as she marches.

And if a blonde girl asks if your hair is fake,
Smile, and don’t swear under your breath as she walks away.
If she asks if black people blush, or get hickeys, don’t look away,
Even when your cheeks are burning.

For every time you were younger and looked at her tall pale frame,
Wishing your eyes had a little green to them too,
So they could also be uniquely olive,
Don’t look down.

When he comments earnestly on your irises,
How they’re not perfectly round,
But that’s what makes them charming,
Keep eye contact.

Please know that nothing is really perfectly round anyways.

When you miss a step on the second floor stairs in front of Daniel Cusack,
Don’t turn red.
If he makes fun of you for it later and you get upset,
Stop taking yourself so seriously.
You’ve rode this ride before and know where all the loops are.
And I heard God saves the sinners too,
So pick two bluebonnets and run through that park after midnight with that boy.
Morning, and your mother will be there eventually,
Both equally disappointed in you.

There will be moments that will shake all the money out of your pockets,
Bully your brain into thinking life will always be like high school,
Do not believe them,

When you learn the five keys to happiness from your painting teacher,
Write it all, don’t look down.
He will say, I’ve got some advice you’re gunna need.
Actively seek out these five things in your life,
Chase the wild laughter of happiness as it whistles away in the trees.
Do not turn red at the prospect of being happy, not even for a second.

He will say, 1. Meaningful Employment
When you love what you do, and you can support yourself off it,
Take pride and drudge the leftover receipts in car-a-mel
To soak up the debts you will accumulate from shoes.
Do not look down when your boss yells at you,
But look her right in the eyes, answer calmly.

He’ll say 2. Good health
This means honey,
Sleep in,
Be thankful you have your two good hands and a heart that beats,
And don’t ever let Daniel Cusack break it.

3. Valuable friendships,
Occurring only when
When you invest your time in people who don’t play it cautious
When you love those who will hold laughter in higher regard
Than the price of the shirt on your back,
Give ‘em all you got.

Please 4. Don’t live beyond your means
money isn’t something to chase,
It will not soothe you,
It will not lock your uncertainties in the basement and bolt the double-doors.
They will keep pounding out tones on your structure until your house grows woozy.
Until you’re weak from all the worry.

But 5. Reciprocated love
Someone giving you their hand,
Their reassurance not of forever, but for as long as they can,

This happiness is something to chase
Not the blonde girl,
Not Daniel
When you see them,
Don’t turn red,
Do not look down.

Just swear under your breath a little and smile.

Honey, God loves the sinners too.

travelers

Molly Fessler
BRYN MAWR COLLEGE, BRYN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA, USA

they welcomed us to the city, so we took that as the sign, the divine right granted by, given to citizens of the world.
you are mine and i am yours.
we bought dates, ran through alleys, into spouts of streams of water that
cleaned the streets
lanes where figs blushed in the sun,
unloaded by worn hands on flat trays
we walked until our shoes yelled.
the oranges unpeeled each day,
do you remember, boarding the bus, tugging sand from socks and then
diving
into tulips, gathering the folds of its cup around as silk as smooth as gold sparks
that flaked from the static of the radio.
the power, the pulse, when my hand takes yours to cross a bridge
over Bosporus or Jordan.
we swam through waves made by seas Black and Dead, cradled each other
as fevers rose when miles grew.
we came to the city and pulled the concert posters off the walls.
we came to the city and danced.

A Day’s Tale

Anam Fatima
LADY SHRI RAM COLLEGE FOR WOMEN, NEW DELHI, INDIA

Ah! Another morning arrived,
Get up, O silent soul,
Life’s battles only brave ones survived,
Open thine eyes, pursue thy goals.

Now ready for college,
Say goodbye and explore,
The world of fun and knowledge,
Enter it, open the door!

The long journey, begin it fast,
Be quick and careful, but avoid haste,
See the birds soaring above,
Smile my friend, smile with love.

Take auto, then walk, then change metro thrice,
What to say, it’s a better life’s price,
Don’t stop, keep going ahead,
The golden path to success has to be tread.

Suddenly heartbeats catch a new rhyme,
Entering the college, winks the time,
Knowledge hugs lovingly, heart fills with delight,
Life attains a shine, soul feels the silver light.

Treading LSR lanes, enjoying, smiling,
Book of happiness, compiling,
Sweet tune of tension free days, humming in ears,
Feeling gratified, life deserted fears.

Trees looking greener than ever before,
Natural world, heart adores,
Flowers flooded with nectar, happy honeybees,
Cats enjoying sunlight, heart enjoying cool breeze.

Looking at my world, with visions widespread,
Exploring things, long, complex paths to be tread,
Missing mom’s smile, dad’s advice,
In every new person, finding something nice.

Often smiling, to reduce, forget pain,
But life isn’t all about gain,
Talking with oneself, quite a lot,
Finding solace in every new thought.

Then journey back to home, last class ends,
Treading path to home, with lots of bends,
Then walking, getting closer to destination,
Reaching home, with winning warrior’s sensation.

A day’s tale over, yet certain things remaining,
Whom to complain, ah, my leg is paining,
Tired, pretty enough, o warrior, take rest,
Consoling the soul, flattering ‘thou art the best’.

Anger, often uninvited, ready to arrive,
Oh, this sad soul, wondering how to survive,
Little pain, ache, little fun, felicity,
These contents make life, may be pretty.

No more left to say, night arrives, soul feels drowsy,
All that remains is dream, sweet dream to see,
Such went the days, nights, at a relative’s far home from college,
Letting heart feed alone on knowledge.

An English Major in Shandong Women’s University

 
SHANDONG WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY, JINAN, SHANDONG PROVINCE, CHINA

After the college entrance examination in 2011, I was admitted by Shandong Women’s University (Jinan, Shandong Province, China) and became an English major. I like English, so I chose the major.

In China, there are special exams for English majors, which are called TEM-4 and TEM-8. We are allowed to take part in TEM-4 when we are sophomores, which means I needed to do that this year. In order to prepare for it, after winter vacation, we all started to get up at about 6:00 a.m. for morning reading every day and studied until 10:00 in the evening.

As you can imagine, it’s a very important exam for us and all of us have tried our best. We had the exam in April 20, 2013. Tired as we were during the process, all of us were enriched. However, now the exam has ended, and we return to normal life. Without TEM-4, I seem to have no incentive in my life. I really cherish the memory of that time when I worked hard for the exam, but there are lots of other assignments waiting for me. Whether the result of TEM-4 is good or not, I will continue to study and try my best to be a good learner.

As an English major, one of my dreams is to go abroad and know more about foreign cultures. I hope my school can have more contact with foreign countries and offer more study opportunities for us.

A Woman of Strength

Aishwarya Khanna
LADY SHRI RAM COLLEGE FOR WOMEN, NEW DELHI, INDIA

A woman is the peace during a storm
She is the anchor onto which we hold
Like an angel descending from the sky
She shines with love, affection and pride

She moulds herself into the roles of a daughter, a wife and a mother
Burdened with responsibilities, yet walking with confidence
She is someone you can turn to in times of crisis
And she will be there with you all along, as you fight it.

A woman she is, in the world of men.
Filled with perseverance and creativity
Striving for her space and identity
Indeed she is the true nurturer of life.

An epitome of selflessness
She gives her all, without expecting anything in return
A friend, a guide and a teacher to her child
Never will she let him go awhile.

And yet you treat her with disgrace
Molesting her and then thrashing her, showing your false might
Do you not feel ashamed of yourself?
Or does it boost your false pride when she cries for help?

BUT remember! She is neither weak nor alone,
And will not stop until the path of justice is shown.
Because she has as much right to move freely as you do
And giving the culprits a death sentence to protect the victim’s honor
Is the least the government must do!

A woman is an image of courage and determinism,
Fighting with full might against all kinds of discrimination.
Hoping for a new dawn, where the family celebrates when a girl child is born.

To Connecting Girls

Khadiga Babiker Badri
AHFAD UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN, OMDURMAN, SUDAN

Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures is the theme for this year’s Women’s Week—an event organised annually by the staff and students of Ahfad University for Women.  A theme is chosen every year, usually in accordance with the global theme of International Women’s Day, and the competitions begin. The different schools of the university work to make the theme into a work of art, painting, theatrical drama, poetry or song, and compete amongst themselves, also through sports and debate, for the ultimate prize, the Women’s Week Cup.  I can honestly say that I have seen, heard and breathed the personification of this very statement on the week leading up to and culminating in the women of Sudan dancing in front of Al-Hafeed library to powerful words, enticing a billion women around the world to break the chain.

One Billion Rising is a global movement that was replicated all over the world on February 14, 2013.  It was organized in Khartoum through a collaboration between Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, Makaan, UNFPA, Salmmah’s friends, Open Mic Nights Khartoum, Sudanese Women Empowerment for Peace (SuWEP), VDAY, the British Embassy, Babiker Badri’s Scientific Association for Women Studies, SEEMA Centre, Sudanese Organization for Research & Development (SORD), Blue Nile Lotus, Seema Center and Motawinat Group.

The impassioned women of Ahfad, young and old, practiced diligently, at their homes, at the university club, in the corridors, in between lectures, and at the student centre. For days, within the walls of Ahfad, the chants could be heard at every corner, while its women danced for themselves and for each other, in pairs, in threes, and in hundreds. Teasing each other, correcting each other, and teaching each other, devoutly preparing for the fourteenth day of February, when they would dance and rise to break the chain of violence committed against the women of their country, Africa, and the world.

It was a truly glorious experience. Whilst we stood in lines, the other inconsequential lines, were blown away.  Girls of different ages, academic levels, from different countries, and social backgrounds struck up conversations and bonded on how best to time the box steps, or whether to break the chain circle beginning from the left or the right. Even in this time, when Women’s Week is knocking on our doors and interschool competitions reach an all-time high, the competitive digs and remarks were set aside and delayed for another day.

On the most unconventional of Valentine’s Days, hundreds of women stood in lines, mostly dressed in black but different in every other way. They came together in front of the library and danced to break the chain. We weren’t a billion in number, but in spirit. There were synchronised and occasionally spontaneous turns and pivots, box steps and cha-cha-chas. After days of practice, our efforts were finally rewarded. It was, to me personally, one of the most exhilarating, goose-bump raising and moving moments I experienced in my life.

On that day, I not only understood but profoundly felt the meaning of connecting girls, inspiring futures.