Elegy for India’s Daughter
for Jyoti Singh, victim of the Delhi gang rape, December 2012
They called me fearless. I did not ask to become India’s Daughter. I was onlymy father’s daughter, light of his eyes, he who named me light, and then namedme to the world. The rest was irrelevant— the politicians & activists, the discourse& disquisitions, the speeches & placards, the candles, vigils, prayers, and protests,the prime minister himself at the airport to receive the body I had at last escaped.It was too much too late, the pomp & grandeur of the funeral pyre. I am becomethe dust of the land, as once my entrails mingled with the dust of a street in Delhi.Bharat is bleeding. Why didn’t the earth unclose her womb to welcome her Jyotias she did her Sita? I will not concede to myth or metaphor. I am a consort of fire,the dawn inflamed, the flagrant sun. (Note)
Copyright © 2018 by Nausheen Eusuf
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University and a graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. Her poetry has appeared in Southwest Review, Salmagundi, PN Review, Literary Imagination, Smartish Pace, and World Literature Today, and has been selected for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2018. Her first full-length collection, Not Elegy, But Eros, was recently published by NYQ Books (US) and Bengal Lights Books (Bangladesh). A native of Bangladesh, she was born in Dhaka in 1980. Her website is www.nausheeneusuf.com
The American Scholar is the venerable but lively quarterly magazine of public affairs, literature, science, history, and culture published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society since 1932. In recent years the magazine has won five National Magazine Awards, the industry’s highest honor, and been nominated for awards sixteen times. Many of its essays and articles have been selected for the yearly Best American anthologies.
In 2006, The American Scholar began to publish fiction by such writers as Ann Beattie, Louis Begley, David Guterson, David Leavitt, Dennis McFarland, Steven Millhauser, and Alice Munro. Essays, articles, criticism, and poetry have been mainstays of the magazine for 75 years.
Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous speech, “The American Scholar,” delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard College in 1837, the magazine aspires to Emerson’s ideals of independent thinking, self-knowledge, and a commitment to the affairs of the world as well as to books, history, and science.