Poetry: Other Girls

Poet and activist Anya Thakur writes a love letter to sisterhood and women everywhere.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

‘Other Girls’ 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.

– – – 

you tell me i’m not like the other girls.

that i’m special, different.

and i’m unable to speak all the words

corroding inside me, as the taste

of the bitter words on your tongue

overwhelms me, flooding my senses.

anger, hot and bubbling and viscous,

coursing down my face in rivulets.

– – –

so, tell me then.

am i not your brave, almond-eyed mother

with granules of gold on the

sugar-speckled curve of her hips

and strength embedded in the silvery

notches of her spine?

or your blazing, fiery sister,

who’s perpetually clouded

in the warm haze of peppermint,

and ignites passion in your eyes

as she spins words into declarations,

fingernails digging crescents into the podium,

from the bundles of nerves she’s managed

to overcome to be onstage?

what makes me so unlike your best friend

with the sun ringing out from behind her and

peals of laughter bubbling out of her chest?

her humor is her catharsis and her armor

i’m transfixed, drawn to the funny girl

with dreams who shares her shield

– – –

i’ve rubbed rosewater on my wrists

run a bath of scorching hot water

laced with nimbu oils and tulasi leaves

sprinkled in saffron and turmeric

rose petals stolen from Mother Earth

and ginseng and ginger shavings

a pinch of pink rock salt

a spoonful of sugar

and nine drops of vanilla extract

there’s a caramelized glaze

clinging to my skin

and i become jams sweetened with honey

thick enough to cut the sharpest words

that fall from your lips

– – –

am i not sweet enough yet?

am i not brilliant

enough to compare?

or am i supposed to be better than ‘other girls’?

– – –

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