Thursday, 17 May 2018

Rabindranath Revisited

Where minorities fear
and farmers hang high

Where criminals run free, and sometimes for election

Where our land has been stripped and poisoned
and then fertilised with the blood of little girls

Where lies are so loud
they muffle the truth

Where a tired hungry child
stretches its arm towards an air-conditioned car at the traffic light

Where the clear stream of reason
Is clogged with the bullet-ridden corpses of those who dared
to speak up against dead habit

Where minds are held tight by theologies and mythologies
that divide one nation into us and them

Out of this hell of hypocrisy, my People,
let our country awake.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

The third word is "justice".

An awarding of that which is due.

That's what the dictionary said.

I'm not sure how it will reach down into the grave and delight the broken little body lying there. Or how it would compensate and console

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

Because you never know if your god will be busy with something else when your child needs him most.

And because justice is just a meaningless word for that other child. Unseen, unheard, unfelt. She is gone. What is justice to a dead child? What is justice to the woman she will never grow up to be?

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

Justice just makes us, the spectators, the survivors, feel a bit better about still being alive.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

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.