“The Woman on Fire” by Christine Fojas1 min read

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Illustration by Wendy Ma

I play with the fire of my own truth. I will burn for the things I love.
from Mahabharata

I was won by a man
wielding a bow.
Then a chance remark
from his mother
gave to me
four other husbands.

Diced away,
brought unto exile—
twelve years in the forest
and one under veil—
stolen, assaulted, abandoned,
then dragged unto indignity,
standing before the assembly of kings
who tore my clothes from my flesh in bafflement
as the robe lengthened and lengthened with my rage.

I was once princess
turned wife
turned servant
turned victim.
But now I spurn these names.

I burn on no man’s pyre.
I was born in the flames,
my eyes glowing embers.

I burn for what I love—
be it myself,
be it all you
who have placed me in torment.

I will never forget—
not when this war ceases,
not when this land is overrun,
not when this world breaks
as it is reborn.

Sing of me, children of my children.
Sing of Draupadi, the woman on fire.

Christine Fojas is a Filipino-Canadian writer and library technician. Born in Metro Manila, she has a BA in Comparative Literature from University of the Philippines. Her work can also be found at Marias at Sampaguitas Online Magazine.

Wendy Ma is an Illustrator and Designer based in Vancouver. Born in China, raised in Tokyo and Vancouver, she developed her interest in sharing her worldview and experiences as a person with cross-cultural background through art. Fluently speaking three languages, she is passionate about communicating emotion through her pieces.

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