Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I am a Hindu a Muslim a Christian a Buddhist and an atheist.

You remember in the beginning?
In the beginning God made man.
God made man in his own image.
And then that's was it. 'Man'kind, hu'man'ity, wo'man.
Man, man, man.
What chance in Hell did we ever have?
We were sidelined from the Big Bang.

You remember Draupadi?
Draupadi married off to all five Pandavas.
She garlanded only Arjun
But they told her you got to marry all of us.
Five husbands! That can't be fun.
God know I have enough trouble with one.

Or what about Eve and the apple?
Blaming one woman for all mankind's evil?
Soorya and Kunti,
The Virgin Mary
Do you know Gaia?
The Goddess Mother Earth
She's the one we all
trample on.

Sometimes I just want an o
versized T shirt, boxer shorts, unkempt hair and unibrows.
I want armpit hair long enough to plait,
I want a clean face without a trace of make up
I want to look the way I do when I wake up.
I want to scratch my head,
Dig my nose,
Lick my fingers,
Stretch my legs
And spread my toes.
I want to smile with my gums showing,
Bare my teeth and
Contort my pretty face into wrinkles.
I want my crow's feet to look sexy,
Or my salt and pepper hair,
Or my sun burnt skin,
I want to be George Clooney basically,
But with breasts and a muffin.


Alas,
No...no...shhh...control, control!
Keep it down.
Stuff it up, bottle it in, switch it off,
Cross your legs, wear a bra,


I am starving
To be me.
What am I complaining about?
What right do I have to complain?
I have money, friends and fame.
I'm not fifteen and married,
I'm not a little girl who's been lied to that she's a woman,
Who's been told not to question
A stranger who shares her bed,


I'm not a little girl who's been
Raped before she's been kissed,
Who's been made mother
Before she's had time to play,


Does she even ask to be free?
Does she dream?
When her husband enters her
Is it Shah Rukh Khan she tries to see?
Does she feel sexy?
I don't think so.
This is her job,
Twenty four hours,
Seven days a week,
Zero pay,

Just get through each day.
Do you think she cares freedom, rights, about politics or religion,
She's fifteen.
She cares about food
And what her neighbors say.


Politics and religion are for the luckier, The wealthier, The stronger,
And in our country, Politics and religion are enviable careers.


Here we are,
We've survived this far,
Thanks to seduction, perhaps some manipulation,
But mostly thanks to Mother Nature and ovulation.
Now look at all the queens and goddesses of history,
No prince came to the rescue,
No king ever went down on one knee,
No deity was even that trustworthy,
Yet all we've be told since we were three,
Are fairytales, adverts, and pretty stories,
Telling us to pray, hope,
And wait to be saved.


Hello. Namaste. Salaam.
I am a Hindu a Muslim a Christian a Buddhist and an atheist.
I am twenty, thirty, forty and fifty.
I am single, married, divorced and half the country.
I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a prostitute.
I am a stereotype, a trophy and a prisoner of patriarchy.
I am a woman in Indian society and I am not yet free.
But forget about all that for a moment and just look at me.
Look beyond my body, really look at me.


- Kalki Koechlin, Indian actress, excerpted from a powerful poem shared with me from the Muslim & Exmuslim Women for Secularism Facebook page.

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