but above all, there is one story echoed through ancient epics
the first one our mother ever told us
about a young woman in a magical forest who disobeyed a man's law
and extended alms to a beggar
only to find herself kidnapped
by the king of demons
a fable told to daughters crossing their lines or as our mother put it,
those who forgot to keep the Lakshmana rekha around themselves.
So stay in, she said, and you'll be safe.
But thrilled by adventure and bewitched by pleasure, we wandered
into chocolate factories and wonderlands and cloud nines
turned into jugglers and crystal gazers and dreamers
fell into arms that deserted
and welcomed into our space, wolves disguised as pitiful things
blind in our trust and naive in our hearts
forgave friends who betrayed us again and again
ran back to boyfriends who put us in pain
went out and brought the devil home
and at the end of it all, found ourselves devastated.
But this is where the real story begins.
The era after Sita is taken away, then banished, then returned to the molten core of this very ground
where only iron can survive.
This is where we find out war heroines exist.
That children who lift the bows of Gods long before their suitors do, are real.
That fire can never be put through a trial by fire and limits can never be set on the limitless.
That we can never give up the world,
horrors and glory alike
to stay inside a circle drawn by a system thirsting for our oppression.
So we strayed. Sure, splintered along the way
collided headfirst into life and it was turbulent and ugly and marvelous and magical
and you'll say things like, had they listened to us and remained home
they may have had a chance
but damn them, they chose to be brave
kicked ass and how
scaled mountains high and low
so the next time you tell this story to anyone at all, tell them the truth
tell them we taught ourselves some killer tricks
stepped into coal and turned into lotuses
tell them we hunted golden deer by our darn selves
split the very earth under our feet
and tell them we came back riding flying chariots at daybreak
reigns in our hands like a piece of cake
leaving abductors drawing boundaries
in our fucking wake.