by Fióna Bolger & Nita Mishra

Written to be performed as part of Eastrogen Rising Cabaret to celebrate the women of 1916 in Ireland.


We were born ten years and continents apart,

united by class, education and a desire

for liberation and justice for women and children.


Adi Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

My mother brought me

visiting, helping the post-famine

people, valuable lessons in poverty.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

My mother, worried about our Devadasi past,

wanted me married off

as a young girl.


Dhanya Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

I campaigned for midday meals, my hospital

provided care for inner city children,

jobs for the excluded women medics.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

There were those children of a lesser god,

Hungry, abused and abandoned, who found refuge

at Avvai Home, where beggars came for meals.


Santana Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

I left politics early disappointed, but

the babies dying in slums kept

the doctor in me working till 81.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

I had plenty to give from what I had learned

and so I gave, to orphan girls, fed well, trained

for government teaching jobs, permanent with pension


Veera Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

Under heavy fire, I crawled

across roofs to rescue

my commander, took his place.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

Schooled in medicine, I rescued

abandoned women, fought child marriage,

the killing of infant girls.


Gaja Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

I fought for Ireland, with a gun at City Hall

for women, with words in Sinn Fein. Later

disillusioned, I focused on health in St. Ultan’s.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

They labelled me anti Brahmin when

I banned prostitution, but my cancer institute

and Avvai House still serve the people of Madras.


Vijaya Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

The tenements are gone, but

emergency accommodation,

direct provision leave children homeless.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

First woman legislator in British India,

I walked with Gandhi, my name on the flag in ’47,

a street in Madras, a Padma Bhushan, I was Vijaya.


Dhana Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

With £70 I started St. Ultan’s, it prospered

led the fight against TB,

the biggest killer of the time.


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

What I gained from a teacher, a father, a king

I gave to the three women who came

to my door and left a doctor, a teacher, a nurse.


Vidhya Lakshmi


Kathleen Lynn:

I learned to find ways around the when the route

was blocked, created spaces for women to flourish.

I hope by now the power is shared


Muthulakshmi Reddy:

Working with the vulnerable

feeling their fear, I walked the path of liberation

for our country, our women, our children

Reproduced with kind permission of the authors.

Published in All the Worlds Between: A Collaborative Poetry Project between India & Ireland. Eds. K Srilata & Fióna Bolger. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2017.