India… rape-public?

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[1980s- Protests In Delhi Against the Mathura rape case]

Flashback to March 26th 1972, India witnessed a custodial rape case. Custodial rape is perpetrated by a person employed by the state in a supervisory or custodial position, such as a police officer, public servant or jail or hospital employee. It also includes the rape of children in institutional care such as orphanages.

The Mathura case became the turning point in Indian Rape Law as it led to amendments in Rape Law via The criminal law act of 1983. In absolute brief, a young tribal girl named Mathura was raped by two policemen.

The case came for hearing in the sessions court on 1st June 1974. The judgement came forward that defendants are not guilty. It was stated that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse, her consent was voluntary.  And only the sexual intercourse can be proved and not rape. On appeal, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court set aside the judgement of sessions court and sentenced the accused policemen to one and five years of imprisonment.

In September 1979 Supreme Court of India justice reversed the judgement given by Bombay high court on the case. Supreme Court held that Mathura had raised no alarm, there was no visible injury on her body indicating no struggle, therefore, indicating no rape. The judge noted, “Because she was used to sex, she might have incited the cops [they were drunk on duty] to have intercourse with her”. Implying that it’s the girl’s fault and not the fault of the police officers.

But nothing really came into the light until the law professors Upendra Baxi, Raghunath Kelkar and Lotika Sarkar of Delhi University and Vasudha Dhagamwar of Pune wrote an open letter to Supreme Court protesting the concept of consent. “Consent involves submission, but the converse is not necessarily true…From the facts of the case, all that is established is submission and not consent…Is the taboo against pre-marital sex so strong as to provide a license to Indian police to rape young girls.”

This gave rise to widespread protests across India especially in Delhi demanding a review of judgement which received vast amounts of media coverage. But the court said that there is no Locus Standi to rule in the favour of Mathura, which eventually led to Government of India making amendments in Rape Law via The Criminal Law Act of 1983.

Now coming to 17th December 2012 we see the rape case that shocked the entire world – Nirbhaya.   An outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been nearly 6 years, one was let off as a juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed last year. On the 9th July, 2018 India’s Supreme Court on 9th July finally upholds death penalty for rapists in Nirbhaya case. When this actually happens I will believe it.

In the space of six years since Nirbhaya many more rape cases have been coming forward, a new rape case has been in headlines pretty much every day.

17th July 2018,  yesterday I came across three different rape incidents. “11-year-old girl was raped by 17 men while drugged and held captive for six months”/ “14-month old girl was raped by her great uncle”/”girl with disability gang-raped by 22 men for 7 Months”/    now just imagine these cases are reported…

WHY DO MEN RAPE? WHY IS INDIA A RAPE-PUBIC and not republic…. Why is there such delays with justice…

I have so many questions with little answers…

Savitri Goonesekere mentions that “Men mostly employ violence and rape to preserve their position of power in certain communities” Rape is seen as a method to exercise control over women to prove their masculinity. Often it is also used as a weapon of revenge against various disadvantaged or low caste women.

Writers such as Manto, Bedi, Amrita Pritam have looked at the effects of how rape was used in the partition. Manto’s Sharifan looks at rape as revenge was as political then as it is now.  Earlier this year we had the brutal incident of the 8-year-old Muslim Kashmiri girl Asifa. She was raped within a Hindu temple and currently, eight men are on trial for the rape and murder.

India was voted the most unsafe country for women to live. India has a culture of silence that is integrated by misogyny. It is deep-rooted often starting at home where,  girls treated differently to boys… boys are given more freedom and are open to doing whatever, whereas girls are told to be modest and behave a certain a way. These thoughts are also carried into the diaspora and believe it or not even first/ second/third generations carry these views.

In regards to rape, it is a serious social problem reflecting the reality of how women are treated. It needs to be dealt with at all levels from an individual, social, legal, economic and political aspect. Many think it is new that India is seeing so many rape cases but rape has always been at high rates The Mathura case being a prime example in the 1980s.

I can write many thousands of words but will it reach out to rapists and the government? Will my voice continually get rejected for wanting justice? There are many complex layers as to why rape takes place which needs to be analysed individually. As I mentioned in my previous blog post on five years since Nirbhaya the society needs to change… the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women. 

We need to become the revolution and change the present for the future.

 


 

Violence, Law and Women’s Rights in South Asia by Savitri Goonesekere

Men who rape (the psychology of the offender) by A. Nicholas Groth and H. Jean Birnbaum

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/28/poll-ranks-india-most-dangerous-country-for-women

https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/india/asifa-bano-this-8-year-old-s-rape-and-murder-is-a-horror-story-beyond-sexual-violence-in-india-1.2204423

https://www.youthzone.in/the-mathura-rape-casethat-changed-indian-law/

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/14-month-old-girl-raped-by-grandfather-in-madhya-pradesh/story-5I4mPRL7KajxXpTh0qengJ.html

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/worldnews/6806490/india-girl-raped-17-men-drugged-chennai-charged/

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/11-year-old-girl-gang-raped-by-22-for-7-months-in-chennai-18-men-including-security-guards-arrested/articleshow/65021934.cms

https://www.thequint.com/voices/fighting-rape/opinion-tracing-early-examples-of-rape-in-literature-partition-era-war-crimes

Poetry and some thoughts

I was born outside the country my mother was born. Will this forever mean, that despite being born in England, this country is not truly mine? Diaspora, “the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland”.
I found myself mixing my clothes and music as a teenager bringing a perfect fit for fusion. At times I wanted to go away from identity but, the more I ran away the more it chased me. And now my identity as a British Sikh Panjabi defines my life.

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I last studied English literature at the age of 16 for my GCSE’s. I was never good at spelling and grammar but, I still managed to scrap a grade B. I never imagined that one-day poetry will shape my existence. For me at first, poetry was just my emotions.
I thought it was just a way to express myself, a way to just talk about my emotions and feelings. The older I got the more I realised, there is so much more to poetry – that poetry isn’t just emotion it is a way of living. Poetry is a way to tell your history.

I enjoyed reading poetry especially Sufi poetry written by Rumi and Hafiz I read these two poets so much during the age of 17.
One day I was listening to a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qwwaali.
It was a Panjabi qwaali maye ni maye mere geetan de naina vich birhan di radak pawe…”
I instantly searched for the writer, of this qwwaali and I came across the poetry of Shiv Kumar Batlavi. And I realised how beautiful Panjabi poetry truly is. The Panjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, along with Amrita Pritam changed my life. I lost and found myself while reading their beautiful poetry.

shiv-kumar-batalvi

(Shiv Kumar Batlavi)

But this wasn’t enough, I did not know how to read them in the actual Panjabi script – Gurmukhi, so I decided that I wanted to learn how to read and write Gurmukhi.
I spent the summer before starting university, learning how to read and write (and I am still in the process of improving). During this time I started reading a lot more Gurbani, the words of my Beloved Gurus and I realised how diluted translations are. Translations never give the real and raw feeling of what is written originally. Perhaps that is why they are called translations. As they can never hold the true essence of its original version.

Reading poetry in Panjabi gives my rooh – my soul a feeling which I cannot quite describe. I find words that touch me like they were made for me and me only. Which is why I decided to write in Panjabi.
Some say to me but you’re born in England, so isn’t English your mother tongue but for me, my mother tongue is my mother’s tongue.

I fear that my generation, living away from Panjab and the generations to come will forget the beauty of our language.
I fear they will forget this is the language that Waris Shah choose over Urdu. I fear they will forget this the language of our Gurus.
I fear that they will forget the need to know Panjabi.
Which is why even though I write in English at times I write about my mother tongue, Panjabi.

I’m grateful for my mother, for telling me stories while putting me to sleep. The love tales of Sohni – Mahiwal to Heer – Ranjha to the Usdasis of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Which now make way to my poetry.

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(painting of Heer and Ranjha)

I love reading. And the more I read about my history, the more I realise I know nothing. The effects of 1947 and 1984 are still very much fresh, with questions unsolved.
I asked my Nanaji, about partition about two years ago and the way he described partition, the loss of his mother once again (he lost his biological mother at the age of 2) while crying, made me want to dive deeper into the brutal history of partition and colonisation.

the panjab

(map of Panjab pre-partition)

I started writing a lot about Panjab in both English and Panjabi. As through my poetry, I wanted to send reminders of the beautiful past Panjab had united, how it was the land that started poetry, how it was so rich in history. Before it was divided but the horrors of the partition cannot be ignored. Partition caused a division of hearts and over thousands died. Women were affected brutality. Panjab is still crying and Kashmir is still bleeding.

I visited Panjab in the summer of 2017 and I realised many of the youth, even in Panjab are going away from their roots. The high statistics of drug and female foeticide in Panjab also cannot be ignored yet it is.

And now I can’t stop writing about the effects of colonisation because it still affects us today. The way how society thinks.
How brown skin is not liked. How once India was once the land of sexual Gods, the land where the Kamasutra was written, the land that was called sohne ki chidiya today is one of the countries with the highest rape statics with many parts full of poverty.

After the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012, it made me truly question – is this world, ever going to be a world for women.
From reading the Ramayana and the Mahabharata it made this question arise so much.  And one day I looked at my mother, my grandmother and their eyes held so many stories, stories unknown. But these unknown stories are the stories of so many women. I use my poetry as a way of telling stories a way of voicing what is not heard or is often ignored. From what so many women experience. What I saw in society from the ends of Handsworth to Panjab makes way to the ink of my pen.

Of course, my own experiences shape my poetry. Someone once told me until your heart doesn’t break you can’t become a poet.
Yes, I’ve had my heart broken many times and perhaps that is why I feel everything so deeply. But this doesn’t necessarily mean getting your heart broken by a lover. Your heart can be broken in ways aside from love, such as society, injustices, family and friends. For me, like most poets, everything I experience and what I see around me shapes my writing.

This poem below, ” Who am I” explores the theme of my identity.

Who am I?

I am the winds of Lahore
that my Nanaji brought
across the border of Wagah

I am the soil of Amritsar
where my father was born
I am mixed with the air coming from Delhi
where my mother was born

Who am I?
is a question I am yet to solve
I am divided into names and culture
I sit oceans away from Panjab
yet I write about Panjab

I am somewhat British
yet more Panjabi
I write in English
wishing I wrote more in Panjabi…

– Rupinder Kaur


“Khuda kise de hath vich kalam den toh phela ohnu sach likhan di taufik devi
said by Amrita Pritam which roughly translates to –
God before placing in someone’s hand a pen give them the ability to write the truth”

amrita-pritam-2

(Amrita Pritam)

I can’t thank God, Allah, Ram, Waheguru, Satnaam enough, without the blessings of God I am no one.

Love,
Rupinder Kaur.

Lost Somewhere – poem.

panjab book cover

Lost somewhere she is
somewhere before 1966
somewhere before 1947
lost somewhere, maybe between 1799-1849
during her rise

Lost somewhere before –
Bulleh Shah’s kalam
Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s kitaab
Amrita Pritam’s words
before Waris Shah’s Heer
lost somewhere maybe between –
the sweet raags and poetry of the 15th century

She’s lost somewhere –
maybe at the shore of Chenab
maybe at Takhat Hazara
maybe at Jhang
or maybe, between the valley of mountains

She’s lost somewhere –
in pages of history
in pages of literature
in pages of poetry…
and her voice is
lost, lost and lost

Maybe she’s somewhere, watching warriors
or somewhere, listening to saints
maybe she’s lost somewhere, in the horizon of mustard fields

Maybe she’s lost somewhere –
where her five rivers where once together
before her sixth river of blood emerged…

Maybe she’s lost between, the borders of Amritsar and Lahore
or lost maybe between, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur
lost between, Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi maybe

Can someone find her?
does anyone know where she is?
can someone please find my Panjab?
before she gets lost and lost, into pages of history
before this poison of drugs fills her every corner

Can someone please find my Panjab…?
her land that started the academics
with the world’s first book – The Rig Veda
today is losing its literature…
please find my Panjab

Bring back my beloved land of warriors, saints, lovers and poets

Colonists and governments may have divided her
but her soul remains one
undivided –
borders and distance mean nothing when the soul is one

I might be away from my Panjab
but –
Panjab is within my heart
and within my soul…

– Rupinder Kaur.


 

rooh punjabi logo final

Five years since Nirbhaya…

16th December 2012, 23 year old medical student Jyoti Singh was raped. Gang raped. On 26th December, the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, took the decision to fly Jyoti to a transplant specialist hospital in Singapore. She died on 28th December from the internal injuries.

Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh

“We are still waiting for justice”: Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents.

Today marks 5 years since Nirbhaya but has anything changed? are women safer?  There are more and more rape cases coming forward – but is this making any difference? – how many more cases will it take for it to come to end completely? – to destroy something it must be finished from its root.

On 17th December 2012 a outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been 5 years and this still has not happened, one was let of as juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed this year.

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Since the reporting of Nirbhaya there has been an increase of reporting rape cases by 35%. Rape statistics have increased over the years, leading people to question why has there been increase. But I believe personally rape has always been at high rates it was just never reported by so many due to victims or victims parents thinking it will cause shame for them.

The root of rape cases – why do they happen; a few things come into my mind –

Bollywood influence – many, many bollywood films are male centred with a female just for eye candy, item songs showing one girl with so many men and she is loving it. Films show how men chase women till she gives and somehow falls in love with them.

Lack of education – not having access to education especially in rural areas means that some are not aware of what women are capble of doing – women across not just India but the vast globe have exceeded in various jobs and titles and not just being at home listening to whatever a male says – being the father or later the husband. Women are independent in certain places in India which many other rural areas are unaware off.

But what causes someone to rape a baby, a young girl ? perhaps they are mentally ill..?    I really don’t know. 6 days ago, 5-year-old Haryana girl was raped and she was found with 16-cm wooden stick inserted in her private parts.

I’m not sure how rape cases can come to end but I think it starts at home. Instead of telling girls how they can save themselves from being raped how about we start teaching boys not to rape. To create a change in society we need to start at home. Bring up both boys and girls with equality – not differentiate with them. We need to break the stigma that if a girl has male friends she is a not a good girl or doesn’t come from a good family. If a girl has a boyfriend it does not mean she is characterless.

In 2015 A documentary film directed by Lesleed Udwin which was part of the BBC’s ongoing Storyville series brought into light what goes through the mind of rapists and those that think it is a girls fault that she gets raped.

India Daughter

This film was banned in India but it aired outside of India on 4 March 2015 was uploaded on YouTube going viral. On 5 March, the Indian government directed YouTube to block the video in India. The documentary is now available to watch on Netflix with some bits on YouTube.

The documentary had some shocking statements made by the rapists –

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Was this rapist – brought up this way, is this what he was taught by his parents. Is this what he saw in society and then thought it was norm which is why he raped Jyoti? I don’t know.

It has been 70 years since the Independence of India and 5 years since this brutal rape case. Are women free in India? Can a woman walk alone past 8pm.

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An image from the protest which took place a day after the rape of Jyoti Singh.

I am not sure when the day will come, when across the entire world women are treated with equal respect and that having a girl is just as valuable as a boy.

When will #Nirbhaya get justice… I am not sure but for now, I believe only God can give her justice. The Government is corrupted, the system needs to break at its root. The society needs to change… and as mentioned in order to make this change, the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women.


Sources used –

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/how-city-turned-the-corner-after-nirbhaya/articleshow/62090260.cms

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/03/five-years-after-gang-murder-jyoti-singh-how-has-delhi-changed

http://zeenews.india.com/india/5-years-since-nirbhaya-gang-rape-when-will-accused-be-hanged-2066704.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/haryana-hisar-six-year-old-rape-torture-wooden-stick-inserted-in-private-parts/1/1106960.html

India’s daughter –  film which is available on Netflix to watch.

 

 

Wagah Border…

Wagah de border te raah puchdi Lahore’an de haye… 

15th August 1947
While India was celebrating
Panjab was crying
Crying tears of blood

Ravi was separated from her sister Chenab
And the river of love became filled with blood

The land that once co-existed with all faiths
Today was fighting
Hindu here
Sikh here
Musalman there
No one thought about my PanjabA line was drawn
And that was it
No one thought about the consequences
The mass migration
The killings
The rapes
The women abducted
The families separated
The houses destroyedMy Lahore
My Nankana
Was separated from me
70 years on
I still hear the cries of my people Panjab was torn apart into two pieces
But – where am I to exist
When I exist in a united Panjab
A Panjab without Wagah Border
A Panjab where it’s five rivers flow together

 

 

 

Where am I to exist
Where am I to exist…

 

(photography and poetry – Rupinder Kaur)

Why Loona is a epitome of Feminist writing

I believe Shiv Kumar Batalvi along with being a fantastic poet was also a great feminist which is shown by one of his greatest literature pieces ‘Loona’ – Lūṇā – ਲੂਣਾ; The book that won Shiv Kumar Batalvi the Sahita Akademi Award, Loona is a play written in verse.

The king of Sialkot marries a young girl called Loona. She falls in love with the king’s son from his first marriage, Puran who is of her age. When Pooran repels her advances, she alleges misbehaviour by him to the king. Pooran is maimed and thrown into a well as a punishment. A sage rescues and treats him, and Pooran turns into a wandering ascetic himself – a Bhagat. Years later, a childless Loona comes to visit the famous Bhagat. When she realises his identity, she admits her mistake. Pooran forgives her and his father, and a child is later born to Loona.  – This is how this tale of Bhagat Puran has been told for centuries. 

Image result for loona shiv kumar

There is radical shift is seen in Shivs version from the male persona to a female protagonist . Batalvi openly addresses the concept of female desire and justifies the sexual attraction that Loona expresses. She is married to man the age of her father desiring the sexual attraction from her husbands son who is the same age as her.  Loona can be seen as a scapegoat to the situation. Every woman desires love, every woman has sexual wants and desires – And Batalavi makes it open for Loona to express her wants.

ਹਰ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ , ਮਾਂ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ, ਤੇ ਹਰ ਮਾਂ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ – har mehbooba de chihre vich, ma hondi hai, te har ma de chihre vich mehbooba –  every lover’s image exists a mother and in every mother’s image exists a lover.


Batalvi questions the system which does not object to this mismatched marriage but raises the sceptre of morality if she longs for fulfilment in a man equal in age and youth –

ਧਰਮੀ ਬਾਬਲ ਪਾਪ ਕਮਾਇਆ
ਲੜ ਲਾਇਆ ਸਾਡੇ ਫੁੱਲ ਕੁਮਲਾਇਆ
ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਇੱਛਰਾਂ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਇਆ
ਮੈਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੀ ਮਾਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੇ ਹਾਣ ਦੀ

ਮੈਂ ਉਸ ਤੋਂ ਇਕ ਚੁੰਮਣ ਵਡੀ
ਪਰ ਮੈਂ ਕੀਕਣ ਮਾਂ ਉਹਦੀ ਲੱਗੀ
ਉਹ ਮੇਰੀ ਗਰਭ ਜੂਨ ਨਾ ਆਇਆ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਮੈਂ ਧੀ ਵਰਗੀ ਸਲਵਾਣ ਦੀ

ਪਿਤਾ ਜੇ ਧੀ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਵੇ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਲਾਜ ਨਾ ਆਵੇ
ਜੇ ਲੂਣਾ ਪੂਰਨ ਨੂੰ ਚਾਹਵੇ
ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਕਵੇ ਕਿਉਂ ਜੀਭ ਜਹਾਨ ਦੀ

ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਤੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੋਈ ਆਖੇ
ਜੇ ਕਰ ਲੂਣਾ ਵੇਚੇ ਹਾਸੇ
ਪਰ ਜੇ ਹਾਣ ਨਾ ਲੱਭਣ ਮਾਪੇ
ਹਾਣ ਲੱਭਣ ਵਿਚ ਗੱਲ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਅਪਮਾਨ ਦੀ

ਲੂਣਾ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਅਪਰਾਧਣ
ਜੇਕਰ ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਹੋਏ ਸੁਹਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਉਹਦੀ ਜੇ ਹੋਵੇ ਦਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਮੇਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਕੰਜਕ ਮੈਂ ਹੀ ਜਾਣਦੀ

dharmi babal paap kamaya
larh laya mere phull kumlaya
jis da IchraaN roop handaya
mein Puran di maaN pooran de haan di

main uston ikk chumman vaddi
par main keekan maan uhdi laggi
uh meri garb joon na aaiya
loka ve maiN dhi vargi salvaan di

pita je dhi da roop handaave
loka ve tainu laaj na aave
je Loona Puran nu chaahve
charitarheen kave kion jeebh jahaan di

Loona hove taan apradhan
jekar androN hove suhagan
mehak ohdi je hove dagaan
mehak meri taaN kanjak main hi jaan-di

English Translation:

Honorable father committed a sin
Married me to a wilted flower
Whose youth IchrraaN had worn out
I am like Puran’s mother, Puran is my match

I am just one kiss elder than him
But how can I be called his mother
He is not born of my womb
World, I am like a daughter to Salvan

If a father marries his daughter
World, isn’t that shameful
If Loona desires Puran
Why is she called characterless by the world

She may be called characterless
If Loona trades in pleasures
But if the parents don’t find a match
What’s shameful in finding yourself a match

Loona would have been guilty
Had her heart accepted the marriage
Had her essence been permeated
My essence is chaste, only I know.


Even though Loona’s feelings and emotions are being conveyed through Batalvi – a man, he understands Loona.

Loona in Batalvi’s poem speaks and voices her concerns to the reader. ਅੱਗ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਬੋਲੇ ?
ਜੀਭ ਦਾ ਜੰਦਰਾਂ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਖੋਹਲੇ ? – aag kyu na bole? jeeb da jadraa kyu na khooley? – Why should fire not speak? Why should she not open the lock that seals her lips?

Batalvi’s kissa is modern because it explores a modern theme –  the condition of women in a male dominated society. While the old form was a narration of affirmation, the new is dramatic, disruptive and revolutionary. Shiv Kumar Batalvi has turned the tale of Bhagat Puran and Loona into a tale that questions the old legend, shifts the male society perspective and tells the story from the perspective of the woman. For Batalvi, it is the legend of Loona which is why it is called Loona – a girl of lower caste, married against her wishes, who falls in love with a man of her age. For this reason it is the epitome of Feminist writing despite it being written by a man.


online ebook of Loona – http://apnaorg.com/books/loonan/loonan.php?fldr=book

also available online at Punjabi kavita – https://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalvi.php

online in shahmukhi at Punjabi kavita – http://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalviShahmukhi.php

Mental Health

Every day you go on this war and no one understands
Why you are quite why you are silent
Why you still respond “yes I’m ok” when you’re really not.

– the inner war between self-destruction and self-love

Mental health is seen as taboo subject especially within the south Asian community it’s not something you would discuss with your parents over the dining table. If you say you’re under stress – often you will be told what stress, when I was your age I did this … I did that.
In our south Asian community, many people view mental health as “sharam”, meaning it is shameful so it is often ignored or not spoken about, as it brings shame to families.
I feel in our community people really don’t really understand that there is something called mental health. Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Mental health is real, depression is real, anxiety is real and we need to talk about it and not avoid it.

There are many different types of categories of mental health – anxiety, panic attacks, stress, low self-esteem, depression, phobia, self-harm, suicidal feelings the list is pretty endless.
There have been times in the past when I have been under stress due to exams, things not going the way I hoped so. And I have had extremely low self-esteem I hated my appearance growing up that it made me depressed that I resulted to self-harm and had suicidal feelings.

And this past year I felt darkness once again… I wanted to run away from everything.  But I realised that wasn’t going to help me. The truth was I needed help. I needed to do something about this. I started writing deeper and deeper, writing everything I never thought I would – and yes that saved me. I spent time working myself, giving my mind a break from the usual trying to spend more time with nature and looking at Gods beauty and trying to understand the beauty of life.

The truth is we don’t appreciate the little accomplishments that we achieve. And sometimes we start to compare our lives with others and that’s when we make an mistake.

Sometimes we look at our-self in the mirror and constantly compare ourselves to models and celebs forgetting that they have Photoshop, they have so many people that make them look good. But we only have ourselves to make ourselves look and feel good.

But how can we become positive when we are drowning in negativity – small steps – learning to value and love ourselves.

Simple things such as a walk outside and connecting with nature – breathing and realising the beautiful existence of the world can help lift our mood and make us feel better.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It can be incredibly hard to think positive and feel positive when you really don’t feel like that all. But one thing that has really been my saviour is having faith in God and trusting whatever God does is for the best. I know God helps me, supports me.

Whenever I do feel down God somehow sends blessings in the form of a person or just a conversation or just something that I read and makes me feel so much better.
Over the past year, I have changed a lot – be it my writing or as an individual.

This year has been the most important year, for making me realise how important mental health is. I could have been that 13 year old self-harming myself… but I understood what my body needed – it needed time to heal from everything, from every situation that I was placed in. Today I’ve really come out of my shell of having low self-esteem and zero confidence – to becoming someone who loves them self which I don’t think I don’t think is selfish. Self-love is one of the most important love that exists and I hope you all understand that too.

Take your time to heal
Realise what is important to you
Think about what makes you happy for once
Maybe go for a walk
Read a book
Write down everything you feel

Most importantly if something is making you depressed – leave it. If a relationship is causing pain – leave it. If you are unhappy with what you are doing – leave it.

If we don’t look after our health especially our mental health no one else is going too. We need to become our own best friends and understand what is good for our mind and body.

– mental health well-being 
is nothing to be ashamed off.

Mirza-Sahiba

 

Image result for mirza sahiba

Mirza Sahiba was first penned by 17-Century poet Peelu, who recorded an oral legend that had been passed down for generations. But what was hidden between the lines of poetry and history. Sahiba loved Mirza deeply but remained to be known as a betrayer forever.

Every writer and poet, wrote she was a betrayer but no one tired to understand her. What her view was. Nothing is even told what happens to her after Mirzas death.

The story of Mirza Sahiba is one of the four love stories of Punjab along with; Heer-Ranjha, Sonhi-Mahiwaal and Sassi-Punnun. It is the last love tale of Panjab.
Mirza Sahiba is the only one, where the name of the male lover is first unlike the other three love tales.
As the tale progresses disputes against their love occur. Mirza is busy with her sisters wedding and Sahiba is about to marry someone else. Mirza takes Sahiba away. And fearful for her brothers’ lives, Sahiban got rid of Mirza’s bow and arrows. Sahiba knew Mirza would win against her brothers. Sahibas brothers kill Mirza. Peelu doesn’t mention what happens to her; some sources say she killed herself after realizing she was the cause of Mirza’s death, while others say her brothers strangled her for dishonoring them.
Sahiba who is constantly brought down in song lyrics, poetry and movies. Was a girl who just wanted to be understood by both her brothers and lover. Neither of them understood what she wanted. And it is often said may no one have a daugher like Sahiba. The way Peelu wrote about her determined her fate forever in pages of history.

Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Growing up I hated my long nose – a feature which is common for many brown women especially in Panjabi women.  I believed it was “too big”.  I wanted to have surgery when I was older and believe it or not it made me very depressed. I hated my appearance throughout my teenage years. I started wearing makeup at the age of 12/13 years old believing that it would make me look and feel beautiful. I would wear layers and layers to school many people didn’t understand this. But the reason why I wore so much makeup when I was younger was because of my sense of insecurity.

And it certainly didn’t help seeing a certain type of women showcased on magazine covers, shown in television and films.  These women had a certain type of features- eurocentric beauty standards.

Now what I mean by eurocentric beauty standards is its focus on European and Caucasian women how they have anglicized features e.g – smaller noses, thinner lips, fair skin and light eyes etc. These types of features are seen more beautiful.

Often many women of colour who have been on magazine covers or TV ads are shown many shades lighter to their actual skin tone and some are even shown wearing contacts. And we are often told to stay in this westernized style and that our cultures traditional style make us look ugly or too ethnic.

Now I’m not saying that European or Caucasian women are not beautiful however their beauty certainly does not define another women’s beauty.

Today I’ve come out of my self-hatred and I am learning to self-love. Today I actually appreciate my appearance, my long nose, my brown skin. And regardless if you wear makeup or don’t wear makeup just be comfortable in your appearance. Don’t feel you need to fit in because you really don’t. Having dark skin does not make you less beautiful than someone with fair skin, having brown eyes and not green eyes doesn’t make you less beautiful. And those women who are shown on magazine covers do not define your beauty. You don’t need to be fair, you don’t to be skinny to be beautiful.

True beauty is defined by the beauty of the heart, not appearance.

No I’m not sorry that –
My hooked nose goes against your eurocentric beauty standards.

No I’m not sorry that –
My eyes are big and wide filled with the depth of the ocean

No I’m not sorry that –
I don’t fit in with your perception of beauty

Do my curves make you feel uncomfortable?
That my back and spine holds so much strength and power
That I don’t fit in with your idealisation of a perfect woman
No I’m not sorry.

Does my brown skin make you feel uneasy?
That God painted me in golden rays of light
Not to fit in with your fair skinned beauty ideals
But to stand out.

And no, no, no I’m not apologetic
I’m a brown woman who’s not defined by your eurocentric beauty standards.

I wrote this poem a few months back. I felt it was necessary to give the message across to women that your beauty is not defined by eurocentric beauty standards.

 

International Women’s Day.

Bhandd Janmeeai Bhandd Ninmeeai Bhandd Mangan Veeaahu ||

From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

Bhanddahu Hovai Dhosathee Bhanddahu Chalai Raahu ||

Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.

Bhandd Muaa Bhandd Bhaaleeai Bhandd Hovai Bandhhaan ||

When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.

So Kio Mandhaa Aakheeai Jith Janmehi Raajaan ||

So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

Bhanddahu Hee Bhandd Oopajai Bhanddai Baajh N Koe ||

From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.

Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji – Ang 473.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the stone for equality in the 15th century and it is now the 21st century. I wonder do we actually think and take action upon the Words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji or do we simply read. I come to think, that reading is one thing, but understanding and taking action is another.

Female foeticideExploitation.Violation of rights.Mental Abuse.Sexual Abuse. Rape. Torture. Harassment.

                                                      –  This all exists till date.

What can we do?

To make a change, we need to start from our own household. Raise our sons and daughters with equality. Not giving one rule our son and another for our daughter. Some believe a son can do anything but when it comes to the daughter, you begin to question her capability. Some men doubt the capability of their wife and believe them to be inferior. But she can do everything. There’s more to her, than her body and curves. There’s more to her than her physical beauty. She has violent currents, flowing beneath her calm surface. That can swallow you whole. Do not underestimate her. She is the Shakti that Shiv cannot live without. Her, each pore speaks of divinity. Just like Meera. And if she is calm like Sita. She can be fierce as Kali. She is the most powerful being. She can create another being out of her. If she can bring a Saint. She can also bring God, upon earth. Not is she limited just to her skin and bones. She is the light of the Supreme.

Rupinderkw