Indian women poets like their counterparts in the world literature show their concern for the freedom of woman on a par with the freedom of man in the social, political and spiritual contexts. In their poetry, sometimes, it appears that they are a little too bold as poets. The boldness of women poets is natural when they look at inequality they have to suffer at the hands of men. Therefore, they constantly search for their identity as independent women.
Feminism in literature is an interpretative tool which tries to read literature from the woman’s point of view. What is her point of view of looking at objects; how she tries to interpret the external objects in terms which are suitable to her ego in a language and manner which may be different from the objective expression of men folk. In certain cases, it may be an objective medium of expression interpreting life as it appears to her. The aesthetics of feminism, therefore involves a woman’s effort to transform her experience in a literary form. She evolves certain strategies regarding usage of language, her struggle with it, how she represents herself in poetic experience, what is her motivation to write poetry; what is her experience in expressing her concept of beauty, truth, reality, imagination; and here emerges the role of today’s woman in expressing herself through the medium of poetry wherein she wants her identity to be established. The question of identity is a very important factor in the poetry of modern Indo-English women poets. Time and again, woman can be heard in Indo-English Poetry, trying to break her identity-crisis. The poems of Imtiaz Dharker, Mamta Kalia and Charmyne D’souza are a fair good example. These women represent Muslim, Hindu and Christian classes of the Indian society respectively and are a symbol of entire Indian womanhood.
Muslim woman’s predicament is depicted by Imtiaz Dharker in her book Purdah. ‘Purdah’ is a veil imposed by the Muslim society upon a woman so that her wails and cries remain hidden away from people at large and are confined to herself. Marriage is a contract in Muslim society, but the poet is pained to see Muslim women being “sold and bought” like commodities. She says:
They all have been sold and bought,
The girls I knew,
Unwilling virgins who had been taught,
Especially in their strangers’ land, to bind
Their brightness tightly round,
Whatever they might wear
In the purdah of the mind1
How women are being exploited in the Muslim society is evident in the following lines:
Night after virtuous night
You performed for them
They warmed your bed2
And the rebellion of a Muslim woman who is doomed to live as a wife without having been loved by her husband may be seen in the following lines:
Bought and sold, and worse,
Grown old. She married back home,
As good girls do,
In a flurry of red, the cousin—
Hers or mine, I cannot know---
Had annual babies, then rebelled at last.3
The ultimate fate of a Muslim...