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Field of Baby's Breath

I wish I could wear 
a pretty Pale Pink
ankle-length Calico dress
with frills, flounces and lace,
break out of the mould
abandon the stereotypes
and get into my working clothes

Our brothers are a war
Our land is awash with blood
Our rice fields need tending
Our children caring
Our sick healing
Our streets cleaning
Our enterprises running
Our home fires burning

Still one day perhaps
I will wear
a pretty Pale Pink
ankle-length Calico dress
with frills, flounces and lace,
dainty Milk White strappy Stilletos
to match it,
saunter on freshly mowed lawn,
inspire to write
poems on Bumble Bees
romping on a field of Baby's Breath
But I would then disown
the different type of stone
that cut and created me
to meet the needs of
a different type of times
wouldn't I?
But then I would be 
one of the many
in need of sponsored empowerment
as if it is the latest fashion
I must be seen in,

wouldn't I?





Monalisa Chankija is the first Naga journalist, who was a Correspondent for several newspapers and magazines outside the state of Nagaland. She is also the only woman Proprietor, Publisher and Editor of a daily English newspaper, Nagaland Page, in the Northeast of India. Monalisa has not only overcome the perils of being a woman and a journalist in a typical patriarchal tribal society but also a society and a state afflicted with numerous conflicts.

Chankija's take on Naga women's empowerment is a subtext of this stark poem, a move she sees as sinister as the state seeks to coopt these women into spaces which are, in reality, hardly enabling, and only result in taking away what is integral to their belonging and their natural bonding with the environment.




2019 May 18

Credits / copyrights

Monalisa Chankija

Posted by


Cotton University


Poems as registers for research

Dear Ra, Thank you for this feminist poem infused with cynicism and sadness. It is a wonderful inclusion to our growing archive of thoughts, feelings and actions that interrogate civic human rights not merely to point to the state's role. We know that already. But to show how, why and to whom it matters. Keep up the great posts Ra!


Naga Women's Freedom (1)


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