Ecclesia of Women in Asia

Forum of Asian Catholic Women Theologians

Women, Break Through the Ceiling to Freedom (a poem by Bernadeen Silva)

Bernadeen with Lieve Troch. Bernadeen in the picture still has some of the make-up for the part of the innocent 12 year old whose part she played in a skit presented during the 3rd EWA conference in Colombo in 2007 January. In the skit, the little girl had just begun to menstruate, so is no longer allowed to play with boys or to climb trees. Bernadeen was a blessing to EWA and to many women but she passed away less than a month after the conference. We will miss this great and wonderful woman.

Woman vulnerable
Lies on her bed
The glass ceiling above
Through it she sees
A beautiful little girl
Dancing, Dancing – three year old
Enter the Black Beast, the White Tourist
‘AIDS my friends, I do not want’
Innocence destroyed, the little girl coils.

Were you there, were you there!

From the side dances in
The young woman draped in saree
Is she Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim
Who knows, who cares –BUT she is a Body
That is the problem, that is the solution
How asks, the woman lying on the bed
The problem how to protect her virginity
There’s a war, soldiers need recreation
There’s globalization, the more you give
The more profits.
We need foreign exchange,
Beautiful figure, the nimble fingers
The smart secretary.

Were you there, Were you there!

What is the solution? Asks the woman lying on the bed
She is an asset, makes a good mother, a faithful wife
Continues the line, conditioned to be fooled.
The Muslim Father finds her man
The Tamil Father’s son gives the dowry
The Sinhala Father sells the land
The girl no choice, invisible, only body
Very much for public sale.

Were you there, Were you there!

The scene changes
The girl still young, haggard over the kitchen fire
Little ones dancing around happy full of fun
No space to call her own.
The night creeps in, the children sleep around
The woman at the table, with head down, half asleep
Covered food for two.

She waits, she waits…..

Strides in the chief, full of life and cheer
The woman sits up, fear in her eyes
The kids wake up sleepy and afraid
Knows the routine, creeps under the table
Thunder, hell has broken loose
‘Woman, my food damn it
This meat is cold, flung at her
Followed by shots – the woman screams
The kids scream, the shutters
Of neighbouring houses go up
‘It’s family, what can we do!
‘This is life’ says the man
‘This is our lot’ says the woman.

Were you there, were you there!

‘You carry the sins of your previous life’ it’s karma
‘Preserve the sanctity of the family,’says the Poosari
‘Submit to the will of Allah’ says the Mullah
‘Jesus suffered, bear up, my child’ says the priest.
The woman on the bed asks
Who’s sanctity, my sanctity!
What sacrifice, my life is a sacrifice
Who ‘s will, Allah’s or your man?
Karma, whose Karma, his or mine.
Too many religions, too.

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