I was stark with fear, and wandering. Open-mouthed in pain and hunger. Where the roads ended and the signs gave out I saw the endless end of all things. The ocean was a desert. And the illumination struck me down, smote and stilled the feet. There would be no footprints now, but sloughing winds. What shadows remained grew into the dust and sand. Waiting so long for rain or nothingness, those pores became long, grained bark and furrow. Arms blackened, feet bleached, soon the sand will rub and soothe away all memory of waiting. Perhaps something shall rise as dust and dune and mountain again. And then fade, and rise, ceaselessly. How do shadows become serene?
Category Archives: Body
Mother, I will build for you a ceremony of words.
Intonations, as I gather the brick-dust fallen from the heads of those burnt men and women filing tearless in the heat. They were building the bricks some of us will use to build our ‘havans.’ And I will chant under my breath as I run to gather the threads fallen loose from the dyed fabrics and the dyed hands of those who make our celebratory garments. I will, Mother, pant alongside the cattle being driven to market, waiting for the celebratory feast. I will walk with the farmer who dons his drums and feathers and travels to the city to make coins for his fickle harvest. I will heave and shout with the dark energetic boys on lorries who run the neighborhood shows, a few days to focalize youthful energy and rage. I will watch the crowds and the carnival, their emotions and their doubts sharpened by display. I will watch those who religiously abstain from such topsy turvy opiate festivals.
And I will etch with a little stick the altar I want to make for ‘you,’ the bricks of my lists, the chants of my queries. For nothing else makes sense of this senseless earth, its thrashing lives, its vast solitude in the cosmos. Without an accounting, this mind-hull of heaven is Nothing.
As long as national and international laws treat the rape of women as less significant than the brutalization and torture of men, I refuse to call either the Delhi or the Rohtak cases rapes. They are cases of mutilation, torture, murder, dismemberment, cruel and pathological premeditated destruction. A woman is first a human being.
Define her any way you want. She is gone. I’m glad she is gone. I hope she went into shock very early, so that some part of the pain I cannot imagine will have been kept from her senses. Oh child, I wish I had had the power to ask for a quick death for you.
Morally, I feel violated. Warring subjective reactions, one almost feral, the other weary of everyday claims to a modern world. Nothing has changed, we still have poverty, disease, brutal and casual death, catastrophes that could have been easily averted, and a miserable existence for those outside the gates of the manor/gates of power.
They speak of arrests and fast-track courts. Nine men safe in cells. Thus speaks the red mist of pain and anger.
And the mist asks: why should we distrust a subjective response, or hand over our moral trials to slow, plodding courts? Justice can be serene only when it has transcended both pain and joy, of all peoples. But in the moments of every event, every time, the public must feel, must respond viscerally, affectively, subjectively, for such response is the surest condemnation of whatever threatens the human (cruelty, violence, inaction). By refusing to feel the pain of others we become less than fully human ourselves.
In the wake of such response it will be easy to hear the blood cry for justice. Inevitably, someone will ask for the death penalty, and most others will cry against it.
Let’s think for a moment — and separate the legal and the moral codes, and then again the archetypal ones.
I cannot comprehend the psychology of this much fear, rage and revenge, all for the chance occurrence of a female body. What sensations are such creatures after? Had they done it before? Who are the men and women who know them, shelter them? Such impotence, that it took many to hunt one, it took many to attack one mentally challenged female stranger, it took sharp and hard objects to invade her, it took violence to make her submit to what they had to say. They calculated–a stranger, a woman with difficulties, a place where her cries and struggles would not be heeded or her body found for days, a plan of ambush, tools for their task, the willing participation of each. They depersonalized her, dehumanized her, obliterated what remained. Nine men for one woman? But these are not men. Nor are they beasts. Animals have a primary motivation — survival. These perpetrators had no purpose other than gratification in the moment.
Cries against feeble manhood and an impotent nation could be taken in the context of increasing brutalization of women by men all over the world. A body perceived as weaker is still an easier and more horrifying target for the rage of man. Why? What causes a man to wish to rape whatever is ‘not like me’? What causes a human male to split off from the part of him that is common to the species? Shall we blame it partially on womanhood and the raising of wayward, entitled, sociopathic sons in societies enamored of ‘traditional ways of living’? Shall we say Delhi and Rohtak reveal the pathology of Indian society, and the psychopathology of several million specimens of the Indian male?
Do you see? I cannot reason this through. I cannot thrust this from my body, take pleasure in my body’s life when my cells twitch with an anguish they cannot remember.
Oh child, I wish I had had the power to ask for a quick death for you.
You said, “No more walls.”
What did you see after you threw yourself against the ropes? Launched yourself from them? Did you find anything? Did they crawl over your wrists, the ropes? Tie you in knots, your knees bent climbing them? Did you meet that other body you raged against?
Were you subdued before you hung from them?
Did you find it, what you were looking for all the time you were using the perimeter of the ring, the stage, the self, the world?
Did you look up?
There is no why. Our questions are allowed, but no answers.
It is heady to flirt with the darkness and the light. Death is enormously seductive in its anonymity but not for those who want to go in and find anything out. You have to be willing to surrender, and do so without belief in a higher grace. That’s why, perhaps, suicide is called a sin; it sins against the possibility of hope, forgiveness, redemption and all that grace, and the agent takes all choice in hand, leaving none for a god. The witnesses cannot bear that. That loss of hope.
For the acteur, to choose death is a surrender unto the archetypal Servant, to consent to become a momentary mirror for whatever we see facing us. To have done with the broken knees of the world.
Is death so different then from the archetypal Lover, the dark eternal god? Both death and god will be angered, because you have come to them before they asked for you, but the deed is done and they, being lovers, must still make it difficult for themselves to allow you to join them. So they ask for a price, a final discharging of debts before the merging. The shoulders of the world.