Keeping Our Daughters Safe

Keeping our daughters safe at home

Means denying them the wilderness that is life

They may get pricked by a thorn or two

But the stab of pain and the scarlet drop of loss

Can be licked and soothed and healed over time

And the leaves will grow over the wound

The beautiful and not-so-beautiful flowers will eventually bloom

And the bees will come to drink the sweet nectar juice


Keeping our daughters safe at home

Means denying them the sun, the rain and the wind

Some days may be scorching, some days may feel like drowning

In the simple and complex challenges that are life

But with time, they'll learn to weather the storms

And grow taller and stronger, brighter and bolder

Until not even climate change can strike them down


Keeping our daughters safe at home

Means denying them the twinkling stars under a midnight sky

For fear of losing them in the darkness

Out of a love that is selfish, unfair, cruel even

Nobody said life was all buttercups and daisies

And keeping us tucked away within bricked houses

Peering at the world trundling by through a piece of glass

Prevents us from living the full life

That we deserve

Several Years Later


Your honesty was the texture of crystalised honey

Little, rough grains to scrub dead skin off my body

Full of natural antioxidants to boost my health

And during dark times, a much needed source of strength

You came to me anxious, unhappy and withdrawn

Life had battered you, leaving your dreams ripped and torn

Your creative abilities were wrapped in insecurities

But beneath it all, there was emotional maturity

A desire to experience art and share wisdom with the world

Your curiosity of life was that of a little girl

I happily saw you grow and change over the years

But my pride in your progress soon became laced with subtle fears

Your careful honesty sometimes gave way to blasé theories

Your authenticity was something I couldn't help but start to query

Our conversations felt like habit rather than mutual interest in each other

We became two planets, once aligned, now simply passing one another


The reason why I find it difficult to apologise

Is because we weren’t taught to as kids

An absent father and an anxious mother

Meant we missed out on etiquettes 101

And all the unresolved baggage

We accumulated over the years

That we seem unable to cut loose

Prevents us from saying the simple word


A letter to my seven year old self

You’re beautiful

You do not need to colour your nails pink

And your lips red with felt tip pens

And look in the mirror

Wishing you looked like a Bollywood actress

Words like knives

Small sharp kitchen knives

Cut through me

As she throws yet another thoughtless tirade of criticisms

Ones born out of bitter sweet moments

That were biding their time to fly the nest

But they could have been shared carefully

She could have given gently

It could have been a small, private affair;

Precious gifts from mother to daughter



You might not know me but

I’m your daughter

The third in fact

I didn’t really spend much time thinking about you while growing up

I was too busy trying to be cool at school

And ignoring the fact that I came from a single parent family

I also thought

You don’t care about us

So why should I care about you?

But strangely, in my early twenties

I did care

And I didn’t know why

I spent nights sobbing into my pillow

Wondering how a man could have kids

And just not give a shit

Hurt and resentment turmoiled in my tummy

Thinking you owed me

You owed me.

You owed me a life time of fatherhood

You owed me guidance, words of encouragement, teachings of respect and discipline

You owed me strength, safety, support, security and stability

And you owed my mum.

How dare you marry without any intentions of being a husband?

How dare you have children without any intentions of being a father?

How dare you practise religion so religiously yet fail to follow one of the most important aspects?

A parent’s responsibility to his child

It’s ironic how adults like to talk about children respecting their parents but

What about parents respecting their children?

Several years later, I lie in bed

I think, contemplate and reflect

Maybe it’s not your fault

You grew up back home

So I assume

Your parents never taught you

Because they grew up back home

And their parents never taught them

What it was to be a husband and a father

So here you were, a child in a man’s body

Doing adult things but handling it like a teenage boy

Maybe your emotional intelligence was never nurtured

And you didn’t understand what it was to be married and have children

And all you had to guide you

Was this twisted culture and misguided version of religion to be followed blindly

So don’t worry; I no longer blame you

And I no longer hurt

I can only feel a quiet sadness

For the lonely, empty life you led

Devoid of love and affection

From when you were a child

To when you became a father

What you could have had

But never accepted

Or didn’t know how to

And I can only learn from what once made me sad

By making a promise to myself

That if I should ever have a child

She will never feel lost, she will always belong

And she will know love