A Brown Woman’s Version of Kipling’s If…

By Rhijuta Dahal/@RizDh 

Photo credit: For All Womankind

This piece is inspired by British writer Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem If (1910). He is also the author of The Jungle Book. 

If you can understand the privilege you had
Even before you entered this world
If you can see the disappointed face of the father when his daughter is born
But from the little angel’s side as all she seeks is joy and love
If you can hear her mother’s angst, whether she’ll ever give her in-laws their grandson
Yet not realising she doesn’t carry the Y chromosome
Or see her tired eyes from raising four daughters
And yet don’t feel entitled because the society prefers you over her

If you can fight for her rights, and not with a saviour attitude
If you can treat her right, but not just one day of the year;
If you can help around the house, not because she ‘nagged’
But because it’s your house too
Or cook her dinner when she’s home tired
After a long day of work
If you can understand your win is easier because of all her obstacles
And give her a hand so you can get to finish line together

If you do not make her vagina responsible for the family’s honour
And slut shame her for her sexual encounters
If you do not judge her morals by her exposed skin

Do not tell her — and do not dare cover her up if she doesn’t want to
You do not have a say on how much makeup she puts on and what she wants to wear
If you do not comment on what she does – that’s the best
You do not have any rights to do so, and she doesn’t have to smile because you told her to
She does not owe you anything, don’t try to intimidate her

If you can listen to her, without interrupting in a condescending manner
Or can you hear her? She has a lot of stories in her
If  you can understand, she like you, wants to get to places on her own accord

Has her own dreams, and her ambitions
If you do not clip her wings and put her in a cage to serve your purpose
And allow her to form her own opinions and decisions
Together you can defeat patriarchy
And which is more – you’ll be a man – my son!

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