‘Mahila Divas – महिला दिवस’ is a poem written by 14-year-old poet and women’s advocate Anya Thakur. She works to empower and uplift communities as founder of GirlUp Dallas, a UN Women organization, and a MetoWe partner with ArtRising, which provides arts enrichment to underprivileged communities and creates diverse programming for South and East Asian women. Hosting education, self-defense, and language and literature classes to empower rural women in Delhi, Mumbai, and Munipur, and humanitarian efforts with Myna Mahila, which empowers women in rural India through health education, her women’s advocacy promotes UN Women’s mission to ensure a fair and equitable future, and she has traveled throughout the United States and India to speak for girl’s education and empowerment.
Mahila Divas means Women’s Day in Hindi. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to share these words with women in parts of India such as Delhi, Coimbatore and other parts of Tamil Nadu, and Munipur and that they resonated so deeply with them.
Mahila Divas – महिला दिवस
some things are ingrained, some are taught.
arms will lift you up from the cradle, bring you into a world waiting for you, heavy with expectation.
nudge you forward, and you’ll pick up the art of folding your legs and tilting your chin up,
braiding hair into tiered cocoons of black silk with bunches of jasmine woven through,
and swallowing some words, regurgitating others, and biting down on your native tongue.
others are meant to be intuitive, but have to be found, learned, and fought for.
eyes glassy and voice wavering between strained and emphatic as declarations and crescendos pound against your skull in waves, tides rising and falling as they crave to be reverberated back,
the fleeting rush of joy and then the emptiness of kisses and ‘no’s and goodbyes,
and the flashes and moments and glimmers where you laugh and gasp in unabated wonder, tears spilling from your eyes like dew droplets that have finally condensed because you understand what it means to be uninhibited and to find a home in your skin, to embrace your womanliness and yourself.
earth-shattering, revolutionary, and worth celebrating
and quiet, unencumbered realization.
when your native tongue finally takes flight and your wings are not the sleek ivory of the swan ones you’ve awaited, but something burning and vivid in viridescent greens and burning ambers,
you are the blazing Sanskrit naranga who makes her voice heard a thousand times over.
not always graceful as jade but you are kind,
not because it is easy but because you have known the abrasion and the gaping chasm of sadness,
you chase your fairy tale until it climaxes and race till
a claire de lune will roost and the blossom of the dragon fruit will finally bloom.
in other words, you race till midnight.
but you are your own fairy tale,
and so while midnight ends mahila divas,
you continue to rise because you still have to be found, learned, and fought for.