Feminism

Feminism

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people , said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded defin...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

My Rayless Soul

The moonlight curdles onto my eyelid,
shreds it with each sliver.
With a smile, I take each blow-
black eyes, to me, are known.

Flecks of darkness enter my soul,
and it's a beauty to behold
when all senses are blotted out
As if written over in the blackest coal

My dark lord shall enter,
only in the depths of disguise.
With all my might I try to fight
blot out all light from my mind.

It has torn me asunder,
keeping sanity at bay.
But my rayless soul is now ready
to drown out all disarray:
I surrender at your feet,
my lord, my master, my all, my prey.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Ants

Your memories, like monsoons unleashed,
the torrent that won't cease.
Once the surface is scratched
like a monster, hear it screech-
pounding through my veins.

Awakened, memory won't go back to sleep.
It rants and raves and I hear it speak-
as if a creature from the deep.

Thoughts of you crowd my mind
like a bunch of ants crawling
under my skin.
Swat away one,
another crawls by.
A never ending stream which I cannot stem
Only maybe hold at bay for a while
till I can, by myself, walk into the arms of the tide.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

On First Holding You In My Arms

From my psychedelic trance I surface,
bright fluorescent rainbow lights now receding, now in my face.
My mind bobs up, plunges down- just refuses to stay sound.

It's scary nice in the depths of fear,
this tunnel which I traverse,
exploding stars in my face-
as at the beginning of the universe.

Then I surface through the haze,
my mind in a warped bend,
where the walls and ceilings recede-
only to come slamming into my face again.

Body in ache, mind quite numb,
I trawl my eyes, bend my head  sideways : it feels like ten;
a burden I can hardly bear.

Suddenly you swim into sight,
through the ether induced haze,
flailing limbs sticking out,
attached to a tiny frame.

When I'm made to hold you,
I fret, I may not pass the test,
I worry i'll fail,
under the nurses' strict gaze.

The magical reality hits my stoned mind,
past months of incomprehension pale.
Now it's here and I can't escape-
this dazzling gift of fate.

Delirious with dread,
ecstatic and scared,
stunned, yet unfazed,
I stare at your crinkled pink face,
overwhelmed and amazed.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fate

Second chances,
what a beautiful phrase -
pregnant with possibilities
grant of a gracious fate.

Run, run away from the past,
run from the clamour which leaves you aghast,
run - for all baggage you've shed-
but where will you hide that face ?

Abandoned loves will rise up
and claim you for their own,
lost places will haunt your dreams
and never leave you alone.

No matter how far you go,
and what streets you may roam,
fate will yet grind you to a fine dust-
before long, you will be shorn of all hope.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Burn

Like the parallel steel sheets of the vent leading to the incinerator pit,
Time hurls me.

I unfurl, sprout wings,
into its mouth I plunge.
Ashes and bones
the only residue
will remain.

For now, I soar.
Let me fly

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Shroud


Like ropes passing through my nose into my lungs,
each breath leaves me,
tying me into knots,
knobbly, convoluted.

Flashes of your presence on my tongue,
I lock them down, and stow the taste away.

Pretend not to see them,
these insidious patterns;
embedded,
carved on my skin.
They worm their way in.
hollow me out from within.

Like moss slowly encroaching,
monsooned walls of a shed,
etched permanently, on my being.
Claw as I may, with my bare nails and fingers,
I cannot dislodge your imprint.
Blood runs into rivulets of sweat,
A symphony of liquids plays.

My skin,
like a mound of earth, dug up,
with roots of grass snaking out and in,
thrown on a coffin.

A shroud, the air unfurls all around,
hangs heavy like a day of mourning.
Yet, life lingers,
time not yet for passing.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Public Spaces For All Women

In the aftermath of the alleged gang rape and murder of two Dalit girls in a village in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh a fact that stands out is that probably for the first time the rape and murder of Dalit women received such widespread media coverage and sparked at least a modicum of outrage
                                      
         
The cases that the  media choose to highlight are generally those of rapes of or violence against middle and upper class girls and women and this is hardly surprising.Those who run the media tend to operate on the premise that their readers are "people like us". It's hardly surprising, then, that we read or hear of almost nothing which doesn't concern us.    
                                                                                         
Let's get some context here. 
The bodies of Indian women are policed closely throughout their lives; they are the receptacle of the honour   of the men of the family- in a society where lineage is traced through male descent, the male members alone matter.  The idea is that a woman or girl ( many are underage when they are married ) must remain a virgin till married to a man of the family's choice. Of course women's sexuality and family's honour are practically interchangeable. Placing 'honour' at the forefront gives credibility to the policing of women's sexuality both before marriage and afterwards.

                                                                                          
This policing is done in many ways. In the case of middle and upper class women, the creation of the "other", the supposedly predatory man prowling the streets is one such popular device. This man is always of lower caste or class or socio-economic strata or Muslim.


Note that all such planning and policing is places upper and middle class Hindu women at its centre. It is they who must be kept  safe from the "other" the predatory men.

If we were to provide easy and safe access to all citizens, to all public spaces, it would require more inputs of urban planning, better and more street lighting, better policed roads, better and more footpaths, better public transport and so on. 

Instead, under the guise of liberalization and capitalism, with the influx of international brands and the opening up of shopping malls, we are in fact cordoning off certain areas and limiting access to them. Those who can afford it, live in gated communities, in multistoried complexes, with all concievable luxuries thrown in, while those who help build these very structures are kept out. The rest of the citizenry is denied access to the "safety" of these spaces by virtue of being less privileged in every way.

In such glass enclosed, artificially aerated, and firmly sanitized spaces upper and middle class women strut about, enjoying a false sense of freedom, all made possible due to access to a certain amount of economic affluence. Here, the cordoning off cannot be more stark, nestled as these glass and concrete structures are, most often right next to bustling slums / jhuggis where the less privileged are kept at arm's length. 

And so we keep women of a certain type and class safe from 'predators', the dreaded "other".This helps to keep up appearances, the false sense that the predator is out there and by cordoning off these spaces women are kept safe. This detracts from the fact that the real VAW ( violence against women) is faced by women mostly inside their own homes, at the hands of family members or those who are well known to them, more frequently than outside it, from random men on the street.

The fact has been highlighted that the girls who were brutally murdered were out of their homes at night because of lack of toilets. Yes, their homes should have had toilets. The men who raped and killed them had easy access, but the power politics which is played over women's bodies would not have disappeared,and they would have been targeted in some other way.

The lack of access to such facilities endangers women's lives everywhere, in cities as much as in rural settings. However, the more we restrict ourselves, cede space to the perpetrators, the easier we make it for them. 

All women, of every class or strata of society should have access to public spaces and the facilities that help ensure that. We must raise our voices to demand it. Being kept protected, safe in our cocoons is not what we desire. Let's not limit the forays of our daughters to this or that area of your village or city or town. Our aim should be  complete freedom. Nothing less will do.