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Voicing Silence 3

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here and the second one here.)

Aged ten, around
the time of my assault
In the intervening years since my assault, the whispers grew ubiquitous. Hushed conversations from scarred friends who all talked in coded language about what had happened to them. I should have stopped becoming angry but I just couldn't. Instead I channeled all my rage into the blows I rained on the random stranger who once groped me as I was walking past him one evening when I was in my early twenties. The nonchalance with which another pervert thought he could get away with pinching my breasts made me chase after him faster. But I could rarely sustain the rage which would blaze fiercely and frequently but never long enough for anything positive to emerge. There were no planned course of action to follow through, it was largely fire fighting on a daily basis.

And then something happened a decade ago which reminded me of what triggered my anger all those years ago. I won't go into the specifics of it but suffice to say that the extended family was in vehement denial of it and that caused a permanent and irreparable rift in the circles. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that they all been subjected abuse in some form or the other. They were either themselves assaulted or knew others who had had that happen to them and they had all chose to keep quiet about it. After all, what could they do? And who would believe them anyway?

Remember the aunt from the earlier post who'd had a nervous breakdown? She said something to me not long after the family kerfuffle. She said, "there are very many respected people in this family, many of whose photos have hung on the walls in this house. But few would believe what they got up to." and then she held my gaze for just that little bit longer. She knew that I knew what she was talking about and I also knew that our stories were far from the only ones.

Anyway, by the time we had this conversation,  I was a mother and not constricted by the stifling environs of India and I wanted to do something. And not just for my children's sake but my own. Anything that would articulate what happened to me but nothing seemed right.

(This is a series of every day posts which will culminate in publishing an animated short film Voicing Silence that I commissioned and helped create documenting the sexual assault that happened to me as a 10 year old).

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Bio-data

Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”


http://jikku.blogspot.com/2005/02/quick-tale-3.html#c111042815438237631

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.

-a

Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

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Okay, here's the idea. I ask you a question and you write a short story explaining it. Let me give you an example.

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Annon's story

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After marrying Padmavathi, he is inviting all of you to a water drawing ceremony at the new well they dug in their house.

Jai Ragothaman Iyengar! Jai Padmavathi! Come one, Come all!

-

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