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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 21, May 20, 2023

A Woman Wrestler Speaks | Sagari Chhabra

Saturday 20 May 2023, by Sagari Chhabra

As far as I can remember
girls were protected
from the eyes of Man;
woe betide should someone desire you;
remain invisible within
the four corners of your home,
hone your domestic skills,
for the way to a man’s heart
is through his stomach.
While it’s hard to digest,
a woman is just a spare rib
of a man’s life,
it’s for him to strive,
for you to adjust,
it always has, and will remain thus.
One day something
snapped deep within,
I walked to the sand pit
and started to wrestle,
revelling in the physical hustle,
pitting muscle against muscle.
The secret journeys brought in
a forbidden pleasure,
that had no measure;
sweating and toiling through
ligament damage, sprain and bruise,
winning the Olympic gold was no cruise.
When I stood on the victory stand,
no one prepared me for
the federation chief’s slimy hands;
no one warned me
he was a serial predator
and that when we would get together
to protest on the streets,
he would send the police at night,
to remove us from public sight.
We women sweat to win,
while men in power, blithely sin.
We sit in the blazing sun,
asking one and all,
to forestall
this exercise of abuse,
instead use
your power to restore,
morality, decency and ethics
in public mores once more.
You bask in our medallion fame
but is it not a crying shame,
to pick on our bodies
and then to bodily pick us up?
Yet we will not succumb;
history will record us
not as willing prey
but as the real winners of the day.
This is the truth;
wrestle with it.

Sagari Chhabra
13 May ‘23

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