on the sacrifices
of a million women before me
what can i do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see further
Every time I read a Rupi Kaur poetry collection, I feel as though I am going through the process of self-realisation again and again. Kaur has the capacity to grab my heart and squeeze to the point where I cannot ignore what it has been telling me – all those gut feelings, those instinctual emotions, the thoughts I’ve tried to keep out of my mind- they come to the forefront, and I have to deal with them. The poem I have quoted above, is but one of the hundreds that spoke to me on an emotional level. Because it made me think, critically reflect and question societal opinions concerning beauty, feminism, rape culture, the sexualisation of young women and women overall.
In this poetry collection, I found that there was more of an exploration of familial love and the bonds between a mother and her children. I felt these poems particularly, as a woman with a close relationship with her mother and brother, and the way Kaur writes this type of love considers the mother as a figure of wisdom, love, an emotional person, and one ultimately bound by her duty as a mother and as a wife. Kaur digs deep into her personal journey to self-understanding and self-love, with poetry detailing her experience with rape and sexual assault, the aftermath of it being found in irrevocable depression and a self-hatred, to a stronger and deeper understanding of the self as a result of having her ‘home’ broken into and destroyed. This process, one could say, is depicted also in how the poetry collection is structured. There are four parts to this collection: wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. The significance of this is depicted in a poem by Kaur, articulating the wise words of her mother:
this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
in order to bloom
It intends to emphasise the journey of life. The beauty I find in this particular poem is transcendent and needs to be framed in my room, because it describes an inescapable truth – the obstacles we face, the trauma we fight, the depression, the anxiety, the overwhelming nature of our existence, is a lesson; for we must face these obstacles, the trauma, understand the root of our anxieties, learn strategies to cope with our depression, and smile in the face of reality’s pure overwhelming nature, in order to conquer, to live instead of survive, to become the queens that we are meant to be, to bloom. That is what I find to be one of the most important realisations I discovered while reading Kaur’s poetry. Sometimes, you need to read it, observe it articulated on paper, to really grasp its meaning.
I used the word transcendent, and that is exactly how I would characterise this collection. It is a breath of fresh air and utterly inspiring, and Rupi Kaur is a force of nature. Read it. Buy it. Love it. Learn from it. Gift it. This book will never disappoint, and if it does, you have no imagination, no thirst for understanding the human experience.
That’s it for this one, folks! Or else, I wouldn’t be able to stop! Happy reading!