This poem is inspired by the Hindu tradition of worshipping pre-pubescent girls (kanyas) as a manifestation of the purity of the goddess Durga who represents strength, motherhood and the victory of good over evil. Once a year, during the Navratri celebration of the nine forms of Durga, the kanyas are treated as goddesses: delicious food is prepared especially for them, and their feet are washed.  On reaching puberty, however, Durga is said to have vacated their bodies, and they are no longer celebrated as the pure, symbolic form of the goddess.


Every year

I waited

For that one day

When Mummy Papa got out of bed

Before I left for school.

That one day

When my feet were the only thing

Their hands touched.

That one day

I was Durga.

Then one year

I lost that day too.

When Mummy called

Swati Aunty's little girl

To be her Durga.


Did I do something wrong?"


I'm sorry."

At some point

That night

It hit me.


Is it the blood?"


I'm sorry."

"I don't know

Why this is happening."

"Make it stop.

Make it stop. I want to be your Durga again."

Astha Agarwal is a third-year student in Economics and Computer Science at McGill University. She is a passionate feminist, spoken word poet, and journalist for The McGill Tribune. She can be reached at astha.agarwal2013@gmail.com