Sunday, 6 December 2020

Once Upon 2.77 Acres

Once upon 2.77 acres of land, people discovered God. Some of the people called Him Rama. Some called Him Allah. God smiled at them all, because only He knew that He was in every name, and that He was beyond names.

Sometimes God tried to explain this to the people, but they could not understand. He tried to tell them through the leaves of trees, and through the songs of birds. He planted His truth in the eyes of every child, and He waited for the people to see it. But they would not look, and so they did not see.

The people, however, did love God. They were fascinated by Him. They adored and feared Him, and they chose beautiful ways to worship Him. They did not all choose the same way, of course, because God had long ago breathed into each of these people the gifts of self-expression and choice. So some of the people heard a hymn to God in the striking of a bell, and some heard it in the voice of a man calling them to prayer.

God heard them both. But in time, another sound started to drown out the hymns He loved. It was the sound of the people, quarreling among themselves as to whose god God was.

God bowed His head and wept. And the people looked up and said, “Ah, rain.”

For a time, they were distracted, and they began to speak of weather and soil and geography. But inevitably, they returned to their arguing. And this time they quarreled about whose land God’s land was.

“Mine,” said God, whispering the word through the rustle of leaves. But the people could not hear the word over the noise of their angers and their fears.

“Yours,” said God, scattering the word through the songs of birds. But the people were too busy gathering evidence to spare any time to find the word.

“Ours,” said God, shining the word through the eyes of children. But the people kept their eyes fixed, burning with hate, upon each other, and did not notice the word.

Nobody knows the exact day when He walked quietly away from those 2.77 acres of land, and nobody said goodbye, because nobody noticed He had left.

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.