Sunday, August 29, 2004

Intrusion, Invasion…Save Our Souls

That friendly lil flower-seller down the road, that mechanic boy who’s so very helpful with your car/bike and even Phoolan Devi, all have succumbed to this contemporary and very prominent social issue called CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. Though in today’s Indian society this issue is not dealt with that much of severity because legally it is defined only as the sexual penetration of a child below the age of sixteen. Though it is not only exploitation in a sexual way of a child’s body but also the torment and harassment of the child mentally too. Other countries though have formulated a more comprehensive definition - sexual behavior may imply touching parts of a child/requesting the child to touch oneself, itself or others/ogling at the child in a sexual manner/taking pornographic photographs/requiring the child to look at parts of body, sexual acts or other material in a way that is arousing to oneself; and verbal comments or suggestions to the child which are intended to threaten the child sexually or otherwise to provide sexual gratification for oneself. It must be defined by every circumstance in which it occurs; in families, in state-run private institutions, on the street, in classrooms, in pornography, advertising and films. (Driver & Droisen)
Now coming home, in Bangalore the problem is a big one too. Cases of child harassment and molestation have been on and off in the media. There was one such big issue about a child being molested in a prestigious school in south Bangalore in the year 1997-98 and one previously of a lab attendant molesting a girl in a famed all girls school. Now these are just a few brave voices that have stood up against the atrocities of Child Sexual Abuse but there still are and will succumb to these evil actions of some sexually frustrated people.
Though there have been some solutions to this issue in the form of helplines like Makkala Sahayavani and a lot of NGO’s like Vishwas and others. Children and concerned people have approached these places for help and many a lives have been helped. But it looks that it sure looks a long way ahead till there would be a greater amount of such sexually abused children would come to help considering the social stigmas attached to the disclosure and seeking of help for such issues. Anyway it looks as if there has been a step taken in the right direction to address this issue with the help of such NGO’s and helplines.

A poem written by a survivor of CSA. (As reported by Ms. McFarlane from the college address delivered at the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Conference.)

I asked for help.

I asked for help and you told me you would
If I told you things my Dad did to me.
You asked me to trust you, and you made
Me repeat them to fourteen different strangers
I asked you for privacy.
You sent two policemen to my school…
Like I was the one being busted.
I asked you for help and you gave me a doctor with cold hands
Who spread my legs and stared at me
Just like my father.
I asked you for confidentiality and you let
The newspapers get my story.
I asked you for permission and you gave
Me a social worker.
Do you know what it is to have more
Social workers than friends?
I asked you for help and you forced my
Mum to choose between us.
She chose him of course.
She was scared and she had a lot to lose.
I had a lot to lose too.
The difference is you never told me how much.
I asked you to put an end to my abuse,
You put an end to my whole family.
You took away my nights of Hell
And gave me days of Hell instead.
You’ve changed my private nightmare for a
Very public one.

Gandhi: No More or Know More?

Recently I re-read Gandhi’s autobiographical ‘The Story of My Experiments With Truth’, as well as Romain Rolland’s Biography on Gandhi. Why this reversal to reading this man’s biography and autobiography at this point of life, you might sure raise a skeptical eyebrow, this I shall answer with the help of Salman Rushdie’s quote on this great man referred to as Mahatma. Gandhi today, in Booker-Prize winner Salman Rushdie’s words “is up for grabs. He has become abstract, ahistorical, postmodern, no longer a man in and of his time but a freeloading concept, a part of the available stock of cultural symbols, an image that can be borrowed, used, distorted, reinvented to fit many different purposes, and to the devil with historicity or truth.”
This leads me towards trying to figure out what causes the extremely loose use, reuse and abuse of this great pacifist in conversation, media and debate. It also has become a trend of sorts in today’s India to call oneself ‘anti-Gandhi’ or a ‘Gandhi hater’. This is parroted from every second youth’s opinion, which, when questioned further, have no bases for the argument.
Gandhi today has become the subject of study for many forms of the media, be it print, television, film or theatre, and with this plethora of presentations on Gandhi, there are bound to arise many viewpoints. This is seen in popular media, especially Indian motion pictures with different approaches, like the recent THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH, VEER SAVARKAR, SARDAR and of course AMBEDKAR. These films take different ways of dealing with him, some use the ever-popular eulogising approach, while others look at him with a different angle showing his ideological differences with other radical yet not so glorified heroes. Other radical and different approaches to the man are the new plays like ME NATHURAM GODSE BOLTOI and MAHATMA V/S GANDHI. Also come in recent writings on the man, like the sub-altern writings like Shahid Amin- Gorakhpur- Chauri-Chaura (Gandhi as Mahatma), Gyanendra Pandey – Gandhi as a signifier, Partha Chatterjee- Gandhi and the Critique of Civil Society that have proved to take different approaches to looking at Gandhi.
These schools of thought have emerged thanks to scholars who already have gained sufficient knowledge upon the life, ideologies and philosophy of Gandhi. They only have moved to these differing thought systems after having a basic understanding of the man. This is what the youth today have failed to realise, and they have based their arguments and judgments on limited knowledge. Limited knowledge over here is very well dangerous. Thus most of these ill read and blissfully ignorant viewpoints, which have sprung to the foray, can be well silenced, as they are baseless weak arguments. There comes into play this kind of cultural perversion, which makes them degrade anything that is obsolete. The youth today need to well understand the ideals of Gandhi talking of non-violence, which is very much what is needed especially today after a post- WTC, a crisis-seen Gulf War II and much closer home post Kargil, where many does wonder the world sure does need another Mahatma.
In conclusion I can say, there will be opinions, which very well will have differences, which look at this man in different ways. But one thing is sure; Gandhi will definitely be argued for decades to come. To wrap it all up I borrow Mr. Ramachandra Guha’s words, “Mahatma Gandhi was not so such the Father of the Nation as the mother of all debates regarding its future.”

Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down

Fallen, bruised and shattered
She lay in disarray.
What had happened nobody she told.
Silence conquered.
Pain overflowed and time froze.
Nobody noticed, nobody cared.
What was to happen? What did happen?
Only things that were concrete,
Were salty tears
And battered heart.
A faint cry went out.
Despair, desolation, depression
Only were omnipresent.
What could happen?

Help finally arrives!

"Amake niye khali dhostadhosti korben na, amake ja bolben ami korbo (Just don't push me around, I will do as told)"

How ironic these lines of Dhananjoy Chatterjee are. A 14-year-old saga comes to an end. Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the inhumane beast, who brutally raped innocent Hetal Parekh, a student of Welland Goldsmith School, in 1990, was hanged on his 41st birthday early on Saturday, 14th August in the morning.
Where does this lead India to? The answer is a superabundance of arguments and counter-arguments based on the much-debated topic of Capital Punishment and the ethical side to the essential human right to live.
The fact remains nonetheless that a brutal assassin has been silenced and justice has been catered to. With the hanging of Dhananjoy there seems to have sprung in a never seen before side of credibility given to the Indian Judiciary. This hanging is definitely an alarm to the criminals. Women’s Rights Activist Meera Swaminathan rightly says Death penalty for Dhananjoy would act as a deterrent to those who think that they could get away with any crime.
Arguments, questions, debates and disputes, these will definitely be a part of the scene, but what comes after a very long awaited is the justice to the weak, the fallen and more importantly to the rightful.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Quest to Questions

I add
I write
I express
This language
Which comes across
Does it do justice?
Does it need to do justice?
Who for do i express?
Do I need to express at all?
Childlike I question
But my grown up self is that which answers
Amidst this I survive
Amidst this I survive.

Sitting here writing a poem
Assuming I am the authority that dictates the emotions
When these lines are read
I wonder how controlled am I
When I sit here writing with my presumptions
Of the certainty of my confusion.
I write confused but I still write
Because the writing is the only sureness.
So I write I am confused
I am depressed
I need to look more within myself
But where to look and how to look
I still find undefined Ironically when I am here trying to define what I feel.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Stained the floor lies
With blood off the wrist
The delicate veins lie cut
The knife found it’s ultimate match
Powerful as much as it may be
The delicate veins proved to be a shade better
By submitting to the jagged edge of the knife
The duel was won by the vein.
History and myths have shown
The weak yet courageous
Have always conquered the over-whelming
David triumpheth over Goliath again
The floor now seems covered
Covered by victory
Covered by ecstasy
Covered by triumphant megalomania
Has man conquered death?
Or was it destiny that wrote this chapter?
Confusion lies hazy in the background
But human spirit prevails nonetheless
Freedom attained amongst irony.
Quite symbolic of life itself
Irony that free from the womb you come alive
To be trapped in the life and then die
To release the self to eternal freedom and bliss


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Blues or Permanent Muse?

The sweetest songs are those that speak our saddest thought
Sang a romantic fool
I agree
I identify
I wonder
Am I thus a melancholic person?
Does it mean
That’s life’s short of joy
That sorrow is the only thing I can enjoy
Whether I have lost
My sense to feel happiness
Am I paralysed in this respect?

Or is it life that has taken me ahead?

Stream of consciousness
Passive acceptance
Spiritual Aridity
Virtual insanity
Who am I?
Caught in the labyrinth
With no space to move
We have nothing to do but pray
To escape being the spiders prey
Simple complications
Waiting hopelessly
Dying helplessly
All for a punctuated
Melancholy, I love thee;
Without you where would I be?
Amidst life’s innumerable shades of emotions
You stand out the best.
You are the reason why life goes on,
For without you we would be stuck in a moment
The momentary excitement of the joy that exists
Is only made felt with the understanding of you
You the almighty omnipresent melancholy.
So promise me that with you by me
Is how it shall be.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Calling

There comes this voice calling me
Is it from down below
Or is it someone from above
I fail to find out each time
But one things for sure
It is not from a place known or seen
Not from this world it seems.
Beckoning me to a place
A world that’s far from all I know
All I can imagine.
It does not assure me happiness
Nor does it show signs of pain
But this enticing place sure does reach out within
Speaking to a part of me I never knew existed.
Come closer it calls
To what seems a place more welcoming than home
This scares me, terrifies me,
Yet at the same time
Stimulates within me an excitement,
An eagerness that only exclaims,
“Death! Here I come!”