Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day 19 - Enuf is Not Enough

Someone from outside
the four-block radius I called home
knew this word.
and had used it,
not just at any place in the book
but in the title.
and not just in any book,
but a brilliant work of theatre,
which fascinates one
beyond imagination.
But as a teenager,
I remember,
it was the title,
that affected me
the most.

You see, just by bringing a word
from my four-block radius home
to the title of a book,
what Ntozake Shange does is,
she takes away the need for
any politcal correctness,
or tainting of my truth,
or hiding what needs to be said.
This one word from her,
prepares the reader
for the substance
of the prose.

For Colored Girls
Who Have Considered Suicide/
When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

Enuf. In print.
Enuf, not enough.
You see, enuf and enough
are very different words.
They have the same meaning,
can be used in the same context,
but each has very different significance
to those who employ them.

Enuf sits comfortably
in the subtitle of this book
allowing the work
to call out to those
for and about whom
it is written.

Now you see why
Seeing the word enuf in print,
on the cover of a book,
meant the world to me?

- Based on the preface of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood.

Image Source: 

 #Day19 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry#Race For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 18 - King And The Naked Man

Having conquered
the Persian empire,
the young Macedonian
reaches the banks
of the river Indus.

There he finds,
A naked man
- the gymnosophist,
sitting on a rock
staring into space.

"What are you doing,"
he asks, intrigued.

"Experiencing nothingness.
What about you?"

Bursting with pride,
the king announces,
"conquering the world!"

and both laugh,
"Oh! The fool!"

- Based on a excerpt from Devdutt Patanaik's Business Sutra.

Image Source:

#Day18 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry #Alexander #Nothingness Devdutt Pattanaik #EastAndWest

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day 17 - My Son is Gay

My name is Leila,
Leila Seth. 
I am 83 years old. 
I have been in a long 
and happy marriage 
of more than sixty years 
with my husband Premo, 
and am the mother 
of three children. 

The eldest, Vikram, 
is a writer. 
The second, Shantum, 
is a Buddhist teacher. 
The third, Aradhana , 
is an artist and film-maker. 
I love them all. 

My husband and I 
have brought them up
 with the values 
we were brought up with 
- honesty, courage 
and sympathy for others. 

We know 
they are hardworking 
and affectionate people, 
who are trying to do 
some good in the world.

But our eldest, Vikram, 
is now a criminal , 
an unapprehended felon. 
This is because , 
like many millions 
of other Indians, 
he is gay; 
and last month, 
two Supreme Court judges 
overturned the judgment 
of two Delhi high court judges
that, four years ago,
homosexuality . 

Now, once again, 
if Vikram falls in love 
with another man, 
he will be committing 
a crime punishable 
by imprisonment for life 
if he expresses 
his love physically. 

Dear Supreme Court,
Your judgement mean
that he would have to be 
a celibate 
for the rest of his life 
- or else leave the country 
where he was born, 
to which he belongs, 
and which he loves 
more than any other?

I myself have been a judge 
for more than fourteen years 
And I have great respect 
for legal proprieties 
in general, and would not 
normally comment 
on a judgment, 
but I am making 
an exception in this case.

I read the judgment 
of the Delhi High Court 
when it came out 
four years ago. 

It was a model of learning, 
humanity and application 
of Indian Constitutional principles.
It was well crafted, 
and its reasoning 
clearly set out. 

It decided that Section 377 
of the Indian Penal Code 
infringed Article 14 
of the very Constitution, 
which deals with 
the fundamental right 
to equality of it's citizens. 
It infringed Article 15, 
which deals with 
the fundamental right 
to non-discrimination. 
And it infringed Article 21, 
which covers 
the fundamental right 
to life and liberty, 
including privacy and dignity. 
The judgment 
of the High Court 
'read down' Section 377 
in order to decriminalize 
private, adult, and 
consensual sexual acts.

The government 
found no fault 
with the judgment 
and did not appeal. 
However, a number of people 
who had no real standing 
in the matter did challenge it. 

Two judges of the Supreme Court 
heard the appeal in early 2012. 
Then, 21 months later, 
and on the very morning 
of the retirement of one of them, 
the judgment was finally pronounced. 
The Delhi High Court judgment 
was set aside, 
Section 377 
was reinstated in full, 
and even private, adult, 
consensual sexual acts 
other than the one 
considered 'natural' 
were criminalized again.

As the mother 
of my elder son, 
I was extremely upset. 
But as a lawyer 
and a former judge, 
I decided to reserve 
my views till I had read 
the judgment. 
When I read it, 
it would be true 
to say that I found 
difficult to follow its logic.

A host of academics 
and lawyers have critiqued 
the judgment in great detail, 
including the non-addressal 
of the Article 15 argument, 
and have found it 
wanting in many respects. 
I do not intend to 
repeat those criticisms. 
However, I should point out 
that both learning and science 
get rather short shrift. 

Instead of welcoming 
cogent arguments 
from jurisprudence 
outside India, 
which is accepted practice 
in cases of fundamental rights, 
the judgment specifically 
dismisses them as being 
irrelevant. Really?

Further, rather than following 
medical, biological and 
psychological evidence, 
which show that homosexuality 
is a completely natural condition, 
part of a range not only 
of human sexuality 
but of the sexuality 
of almost every animal species, 
the judgment continues 
to talk in terms of 'unnatural' acts, 
even as it says 
that it would be difficult 
to list them!

But what has pained me 
and is more harmful 
is the spirit of the judgment. 
The interpretation of law 
is untempered by any sympathy 
for the suffering of others.

The voluminous accounts 
of rape, torture, extortion 
and harassment 
suffered by gay 
and transgender people 
as a result of this law 
do not appear 
to have moved the court. 
Nor does the court appear 
concerned about the parents 
of such people, 
who stated before the court 
that the law induced 
in their children 
deep fear, profound self-doubt 
and the inability 
to peacefully enjoy family life. 
I know this to be true 
from personal experience. 
The judgment fails 
to appreciate 
the stigma 
that is attached 
to persons 
and families 
because of this 
And reason
for being a criminal,
is that my son loves?

- Based on Leila Seth's article, A mother and a judge speaks out. She died a week ago and has left behind a legacy of solid allyship and motherly care for Indian Judicial System and society to reconsider it's moral standing.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Day 15: Let go, Chetan.

When she takes her time to drink 
a barely warm cup of tea, let her. 
She's given her time 
to cook your meal 
and serve it to you 
before she sat to drink her tea.

And what about
get up and cook 'your' meal,
and serve yourself,
because it's 'your' meal?
Or if that's too difficult for you,
my writer boy?

"When she takes time to select 
a dish from the menu, let her. 
Every day, for every meal 
she has prepared 
she has given her time 
to think about what to make, 
how much, and for whom.

And what tells you 
that you have the right 
to not let her take her time 
to decide what she wants 
to eat, in the first place?
That she deserves that time
only because she gives up her time
to think about your food?
And not because she just wants 
to think about what she wants to eat?
You recognise how absurd that sounds?

"When she takes time to dress up 
to go out with you, let her. 
She has given her time to make sure 
that your ironed clothes are in their place 
and knows better than you, 
where your socks are. 
She has dressed up 
her child thoughtfully, 
to look like the child who is
most smartly dressed up around.

What about ironing your own cloths,
knowing where you keep your socks,
helping out in dressing up 
not just "her" child but your too?

"When she takes time 
to watch TV mindlessly, let her. 
She is only half concentrating 
and has a clock ticking in her head. 
As soon as it's nearing dinner time, 
you'll see her disappear to get things ready.

You are just going to see her 
disappear to get things ready?
What about moving your ass 
and help in getting things ready?

"When she takes time 
to serve you breakfast, let her. 
She has kept aside 
the burnt toast for herself 
and is taking the time 
to serve her family 
the nicest ones she could manage.

Serve you breakfast?
Like who you are? 
some lord to be served?
What about making your own?
And once in a while 
sharing that burnt toast, 
since you know there's one 
that she is keeping aside?

"When she takes time 
after her tea to just sit by the window 
and stare into nothingness, let her. 
It's her life, she's given you 
countless hours of her life..
Let her take a few minutes for herself.
She's rushing through her life, 
giving chunks of her time 
whenever needed, wherever needed. 
Don't rush her more 
than she rushes herself. 
Don't push her harder 
than she pushes herself.
*Let her take her time*

Dear Chetan,
You know what you should let her do?

First, let her smack 
the paternalistic, patronising, 
and patriarchal man out of you.
So that next time you care to 'let her' 
do things out of your charity, 
you know what's your real place is!
And then, let her shake
the fake feminist out of you,
who first thought, then wrote
and published such an unabashedly 
entitled misogynistic piece. 

And then, If you really care,
let go of your power, 
to let others do
or no do things.
Let go of your arrogance,
that you are the one 
to let her be or not be 
the way she may want to be.
Let go of your misconceptions
that she is there to serve you
feed you, clean you, dress you,
in short, baby-sit you.
Let go of your laziness - 
or is it your in capability?
to not do your own work,
in that house of yours and hers,
and within your mind and heart!

Finally let go of the notion 
that you can... let her. 

- This is written in response to Let Her Take Her Time, a post by Chetan Bhagat, a banker-turned-writer from India. The black font is the original piece. The blue font texts are some of the comments on the post interspersed with my own opinion. 

#Day15 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry #Gender Chetan Bhagat #LetHer