“Girls must never be heard nor seen,”
I learnt very early in school.
And taught myself the art of silence –
Not that I lacked any practice.

I learnt to talk in hushed tones,
To suppress my screams when it hurt.
Squashing the sound of my laughter,
Muffling the lyrics of my song.

I smothered my gasps, stifled my cries;
Gagged stray sounds that escaped.
Choked on my words of whispered disdain;
I was left with no voice of my own.

But I could not help being seen.
For you see, those eyes were not mine.
Feeling me up in open streets,
stripping me while I tried to hide.

May be, I wasn’t a good student,
The syllabus just couldn’t be wrong?
Besides, if one part I could master,
Failing the other – I must take the blame.