About the poet – Eunice de Souza was an Indian English language poet, literary critic and novelist. Among her notable books of poetry are Women in Dutch painting (1988), Ways of Belonging (1990), etc.
Read the poem
Advice to Women is a short poem comprising of twelve lines. It is a piece of advice by the poet to all the women about relationship with their lovers. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker advises the women to keep a cat as a pet if they want to cope up with the ‘otherness’ of their lovers. Here, the word ‘otherness’ signifies lovers who treat their female partners as ‘others’ or as someone separate, by not giving them enough attention. The poet, in the next lines explains how a cat might help the heartbroken women to overcome the ignorance they had faced by their lovers. She says that this the male lovers doesn’t always neglect their partners. They do care for a specific need that only the women can fulfill. Similarly, cats do not always neglect their owners. They always return back to their ‘litter trays’ when they get hungry. Cats are known to be selfish creatures, just like the men. Hence, they always look after their own needs. Until they are in need of something, the cats will always ignore their masters. They would return back when they are in need. Similarly, the lovers would return back to their female partners when they are in need. The poet hence offers a comparison between cats and men.
After this comparison, the poetess makes another advise to the women. She advises women not to cuss or curse out at her enemies through the window. Here, the term enemy refers to her former lovers. The poet advises women not to display a temper against their ex lovers who have already moved on. Instead, she tells the women to behave like a cat, calm and composed. She tells the women not to interfere in their ex lovers’ lives and instead to mind their own business. The poet uses imagery to describe the cat’s green eyes. The green eyes of the cats is a symbolic imagery that is a comparison with the men. Such a stare would often frighten the humans, and make them question about their lives. Similarly, when a woman would cuss on their partner from their window, their lover would give them a stare similar to that of the cat. Their eyes would be shining with the joys of being in a new relationship, and it would hurt the woman in the window. This passive look would make the woman realize that it is better to remain single, and get ready to die alone. She would stop chasing her lover and work on herself, which would make her life better.