The harassment and the prejudice that north-eastern women have to face is not news to us. The high frequency of such incidents reported in the media has in fact numbed our sensitivity to the heinousness of the crimes. This poem by Vinatoli Yeptho, then comes as an eye-opener as it recounts the objectification, exclusion and sexual harassment that women from the North-East have to go through and pricks our conscience for maltreating people of our own country.
Penned with passion and performed with fervour at National Youth Poetry Slam at National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, the poem titled, “Five Rules for whomever it may concern” contains a number of allusions to how the women are judged on the basis of their “sleeveless tops and hot pants”, how their “courtesy” is misconstrued for “curiosity”. Yeptho also makes clear that “she”, becoming the mouthpiece for her community, will not take the injustice lying down and it is a mistake to gauge her strength by the size of her fist for it is made up of “molten iron” and that she comes from a place where the world’s hottest chilli grows.
Towards the end, the poem makes an appeal for love and kindness, which could pave the pay for overcoming cultural differences.
In a statement to The News Minute, Yeptho spoke about her experiences which served as inspiration for her poem. “Though my seniors and family members had mentioned the racist comments that they have faced, it was only when I experienced them myself that I realized how bad it was. Once, when I was in Ahmedabad, a girl who was very friendly towards me asked me which part of China I come from,” said the poet whose poem has gone viral on the internet.
We were touched by the poem. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.