Eternal Embers: A Lament for Sati

Suman Bhattarai 

In ancient tales of olden time’s embrace,
Sati, her flesh aglow, a tragic case,
Burning like roast, a widow’s sin defined,
Society watched, helpless, souls confined.

Sons witnessed, gripped by grim ritual’s hold,
Inhuman act, as widow’s fate was told.
Who forged this rite where gods refrain to take
A life? Frightening for every female’s sake.

Denied celibacy, women shunned the light,
Rituals revered, veiled in cruel delight.
Sati, a heinous crime society gave birth,
Dominating women, deeming no worth.

Men married many, yet burned widows’ breath,
Flesh in pyres, where’s humanity’s depth?
Compassion lost in this ruthless sphere,
Even animals shield, in fire’s fear.

Sleepless nights, my ancestors’ plight,
Their stories buried, veiled from sight.
No excuse as husbands ceased to be,
Judiciary blind, no justice decree.

Queens too sacrificed before their son’s eyes,
For longevity, they paid the ultimate price.
Jung Bahadur Rana halted this spree,
Yet even his kin joined in, mystifyingly.

Centuries passed, lips sealed in silence’s keep,
Millions lost, in funeral pyres, deep.
Temples made to honor sacrificed wives,
Religious pride masking their lives.

No chance of escape, in pyres they cried,
Parents, childless, their daughter’s fate sighed.
Widowhood meant a loss of existence, dire,
Capital punishment, a ruthless empire.

Who birthed this horror, this sacrificial plight?
Tears flow, Nepalese history’s blight.
My great grandmothers, their painful demise,
Forced sacrifice, their right to arise.

Sons, mothers, sisters, silenced in dread,
Suppressing voices, their hearts misled.
Humanity veiled, like light in a cave,
Let’s vow, this history, never to pave.

Instead of glory, let sorrow ensue,
Respect, compassion, a rightful due.
Campaigns, not temples, for their peace,
Charity, honoring, their lives released.

Our ancestors’ deeds, inhumane lore,
Suppressing women, a will to adore.
Violence upon women, prayers for grace,
Apologies to souls, torn from life’s embrace.

Ashamed of ancestors, tradition’s reign,
Longevity’s guise, women’s worth in disdain.
Let’s seek forgiveness, their spirits plea,
For those burnt alive, in flames’ decree.

(Currently residing in the UK, poet Bhattrai is from Bartung of Palpa district)