Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The third word is "justice".

Picture this:
JUSTICE FOR (insert your child's name here).

And then pray, pray, pray.
Because you never know.

Your god might be busy with something else
when your child needs him most.

Pray for street lights, or sanctuary,
or even for some serendipity.

But don't ask for justice,
because justice was just
a meaningless word
for that other child.

An awarding of that which is due.
That's what the dictionary said.

What is that to a dead child?
To the woman she will never grow up to be?

Justice can't restore the dead,
or return the lost years.

Justice is just for us,
the spectators, the survivors.

Justice makes us feel a bit better
about still being alive.

It can't reach down into the grave
and delight the broken little body lying there.

By Nazu Tonse

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The second word is "outrage".

I meant to come, dressed in black, and stand at your side.

But then I remembered the last time, and the outpouring of anguish and rage, followed by .. nothing until the next time .. and I wondered if these protests are anything more than a Festival of Grief that revisits the nation every so often. Like sparklers, this outrage burns so bright, it makes hearts leap for a while with hope. But then it fizzles out, and we are back in the dark.

Why is there a time limit on this outrage? Is it only those men with the blood still fresh on their hands who deserve to hang? What of the rest?  The ones who've walked free for decades, or passed away peacefully without a blemish to their name? Are they excused because their victims managed to stay alive?

There aren't many protests for these children. Because these children kept quiet. Or were told to keep quiet. These children learnt that their honour meant nothing next to the family's. That they should forget about it, get over it, stop dwelling on it, forget the past, be positive and well it's not like he killed you. These children grew up and are among the men and women around you, and you would never know because they hide so well.

They hide from the the rapists of their childhood, the ones who've walked free for decades and probably always will. They hide from each other, certain that their own pain is unworthy in comparison to others'. And they hide from you - because they have seen that this outrage, this anguish pouring forth demanding castrations and lynchings for those men in the news, doesn't burn long or bright enough to illuminate those dark secrets of another time.

Ask yourself why. Look around you at friends and family. Could you take a stand and condemn someone you know, love, or respect? Or is your outrage a limited offer only, with an expiry date, directed at strangers, for "the others" that are not part of your particular "we"?

Only when your outrage is against every rapist, even if you find one in your own home, your own village, your own state, your own caste.

Only when your anguish is for every abused child:  the dead, the living, the ones still young, the ones long gone grey, the losers, the successes, the weirdos.

When you can do this, text me. I will come, dressed in black, to stand at your side.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The first word is "fragile".

Fragile is something of value.
Fragile must not be broken.

Like glass or crystal, I suppose,
though they can be replaced
without too much heartache.
My Swarovski sunglasses
would hurt a bit more.
My life, on my Samsung?
It would shatter me.

Which reminds me.
Children break too.

Some of us you can glue
back together
and we shall go on.

Distorted, disfigured, damaged forever,
a bit lopsided but still - alive.
Never as alive as we might have been,
but at least, not dead
(only sometimes,
some of us wish we were),
and so we go on.

We may even come to see
our shattered mess of a childhood as a mosaic,
and find beauty in it,
and then find a way
to share that beauty with the rest of you.

sometimes the pieces can't be fixed back together.

Because no one saw.
Or someone looked and chose not to see.
Or looked then merely looked away.

Or perhaps we just looked too late.
Too late to do anything
but light a candle
and shed some tears,
and rage - in sincere pain - at the injustice of it all.

We rage and we grieve,
and our horror is true.
We rage and we grieve,
but that is all we do.

Just like the last time.

I did so hope,
as we gathered together her shards
to toss them in our bottomless pit of unlearned lessons,
that our hands bled,
because her blood was already on our hands.