Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Disfigured Me



-Brian Mendonça

Shee is the name of a restaurant in Lulla Nagar, Pune. ‘Shee’ in Chinese means ‘double happiness’. The waiters however, were all men. Dinner at a wedding reception though, at the Poona Club, had girls in red mini dresses serving snacks.

In Uganda women wearing ‘anything above the knee’ are liable to be arrested in Kampala’s recent ban. This has been prompted by attacks and stripping of women who have been wearing miniskirts. Women’s groups are contesting the ban.

A pink and white 24/7 ‘She Taxi’ service has been started in Thiruvananthapuram by the Kerala government for women. These taxis are driven and owned by women. The taxis are tracked on a Global Positioning System (GPS) and have a panic button which can be pressed to alert the police. Drivers are also trained in self-defense.

In Goa, it is good that some floats took up themes of women’s empowerment.  Last Saturday, a woman constable who was allegedly sexually harassed by a drunken passenger in a DTC bus in R.K. Puram, South Delhi, overpowered him and handed him over to the police. Pakistan’s first animated TV series has Nasreen – a female superhero - created by graphic artist Shahan Zaidi. Women must be equipped to stave off any physical attacks --witness the film Gulaab Gang. But it is also our mindset which needs a revamp, as expressed  in the poem below.


The Disfigured  Me

-Elsie Coelho

I drag my feet in the wet sand
The coolness soothes my blistered feet
I was once this sea,
So free, so pure, with no worries
With people who loved to be in my presence.

I was a wonderful she
Like a flower of tenderness and beauty,
Of lovingness and chastity.

But then some brute or worse could not bear my happiness,
Or perhaps did not want his own.


That evening-
Was the darkest to me and for all those who are yet to be
The victim of this 100 times death,
By a werewolf, once a man.

I struggled like a butterfly
Hurting my softness, my body,

That grip, that harness
That evening-
Its darkness still haunts me.

He destroyed my purity, so sacred 
My treasury 
I had protected it from so many before.
Every time I walked a crowded street or boarded a crammed train
I had protected this purity.

But that evening,
That evening-
I failed.

  
Today I am an outcast to my community
A stranger to my family
An image of filth, disrespect and shame to society
A stranger to my own identity.

I can tell you worse tales
Of people whose deeds deserve suffering and pain.

So tell me, will you blame the one who raped?

What is my folly?
I laughed normally
Played so joyfully 
Lived so lively
Dressed so modestly

 Answer me. 

Something . Anything.
Apart from blaming my luck and destiny.
Because these taunts are all that I receive
If you can help let me know, my name is a she.
This is I. A Disfigured Me.

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8 March is International Women’s Day; Pix. Oil painting by Picasso 'Three Women' (1908);  Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender, St. Inez,  Goa on Sunday 9 March 2014

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