Outside my window there is a kite. Not the kind of kite that is tied by a string, but the kind that is tied by its nature. It circles, it swoops, it glides and it rests and then it begins again. I have no idea if it hopes or if it dreams or if it feels compassion, for aren’t those in the hearts of humans?
I ponder this as I watch this creature, tied to its nature. How far removed are we humans from our base instincts of fight, flight, fear, lust, rape?
I don’t mean to sound like a man hater; I’m not. I’ll say it loud and proud; I love men! But those creatures who rape, who leer, who undress me with their eyes as I step out of the supermarket, are not men. Please understand me as I say this, I’m not seeking attention in my loose fitting t-shirt and my jeans, but I think they think I am, because these leerers, these lecherous weeds of humanity can see a hint of the shape of my breasts. Their gaze does not fall as it follows my form and I am left with the fury of a long ago Kali, ready to slit their throats, and cut off their…
I am exhausted and resigned to the fact that here, in this land of the Goddess Durga, where she is worshipped with fervour, by these same asuras, I will have such encounters.
I arrived in India just as it was reeling in the aftermath of the gang rape of a young student on her way home in Delhi. She eventually died in hospital from her injuries. This sparked much outrage and condemnation all over the country and the world. At the time I remember being sickened and saddened at what had happened. I followed the case and tutted to myself. I told myself that this was an isolated incident. Rape happens everywhere and when it does, it rightly is brought to the attention of the public, but Delhi, India, is not to blame. I think I oversimplified it in my mind. I told myself these cases are in the minority. When I arrived in Calcutta, however, there was more awaiting me; reports of children being raped; a five year old, a six year old, a four year old. As a mother of a daughter, I wished I held that trident in my hand. I wish I had the courage and enough rage to tear to through the world destroying all in my path. This sick, sick world we inhabit needs to be destroyed, I thought, believed.
But then, I look at my husband, I look at my son. I see my father and my brother, I watch my father in law and my brother in law and I see good men. I see that the world perhaps does not need to end. But I do think that the world does need to stop for a moment and watch. It needs to contemplate and take a breath because in all honesty something’s going wrong if I can’t walk down the street without feeling unclean or I am suspicious of anyone who wants to start a conversation with my daughter.
It shouldn’t matter what I wear, it shouldn’t matter what I look like, I’m not asking to be appraised like a piece of meat on a butcher’s hook.
Education is the key? Cliché but true. “Teach your sons how to respect a woman.
Teachyour daughters how to respect themselves.”
We are human, not kites flying to the whim of its nature or the direction of the wind.
For more on this topic and for some really powerful poetry, check out http://nirbhayasindia.com/