Even before she gets her name
The first lesson we teach our girls is
It begins with–
Close your legs,
This is how good girls sit
This game is for boys
Leave it, go get your sewing kit.
Another list of instructions follow–
This is what good girls do
You are already 22
It is about time you learnt to make a decent stew.
The pitch keeps getting more feverish
And we police our girls further
as adolescence kicks in.
Hysteria-laced commands follow–
Alright, you can go with him
But be back before two
Don’t allow him to touch you.
He is a great match though,
Rich influential family,
If you can somehow hook him
It’s going to be a coup.
The poor girl is left
surmising, guessing, wondering
if she is guilty of being a sexual being.
She learns to deceive herself,
Becoming adept at playing mind games.
Slowly she finds her way
In this chaotic wonderland,
Learning to balance chastity with seduction,
Coquetry with passivity,
Honour with shame.
Sangeeta Kampani, 62, worked with the IRS and retired as a Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi.