We were read
like the torn pages of children’s notebooks
made into cones to hold warm chanajorgaram  

We were looked at
the way grumpily, you squint at your wristwatch
after the alarm goes off in the morning.

We were listened to
the way film songs assail your ears
spilling from cheap cassettes on a crowded bus

They sensed us
the way you sense the sufferings of a distant relative
One day we said
we’re human too.
Read us carefully
one letter at a time
they way after your BA,  you’d read a job ad.

Look at us
the way, shivering,  
you’d  gaze at the flames of a distant fire
Listen to us
as you would  the unstruck music of the void
and understand the way you’d understand a newly-learned language

The moment they heard this
from an invisible branch suspended in limbo
like a swam of gnats
wild rumors went screeching
  “Women without character
   wild vines draining the sap
   from their hosts
   well-fed,  bored with affluence
   these women
   pointlessly on edge

   indulging in the luxury of writing
   these stories and poems  —
   not even their own,”

               They said, amused.

The rest of the stories dismissed with a wink

Hey, Blessed Fathers
you blessed men
spare us
spare us
this sort
of attention.