CSAAM April 2013: Touch – A Ghazal

006_209788_10150169295632381_4617817_oI was asked by Kiran Manral if I would like to contribute to the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness month April 2013. I greatly admire Kiran’s work with India Helps and Child Sexual Abuse Awareness so I was deeply moved that she thought of me as someone who could possibly contribute. I had done a semi-fictional account of violence last year and writing another piece (in the same vein) was difficult. I had 4,000 words in front of me and I felt they were inadequate.

Today, I was in Utrecht for The Edward Said Memorial lectures and Gayatri Spivak was speaking, she kept insisting that the sub-altern can not and does not speak, playing at the back of my mind was also how I would place what I wanted to say on this topic of abuse – so gruesome that words fail as carriers of my message. I returned to my article – I had already booked 17th of April as my contribution date and I had selected this day for a reason. I did not want to fail as a contributor at the same time those 4,000 words seemed like fonts, curls, words devoid of actual meaning – just images on paper that were alphabets – how could they encompass the betrayal of a child’s trust, the toying of body and mind.

My research in the ghazal has taught me about unity and disjointedness, it has fed me the delights of ambiguity. I thought of what I would say – and this is what came out:

Touch – A ghazal

“Wait, so much said in your touch”
“and, so much unsaid in your touch”

“Grooming” they call it
A child being soothed with sugar for an inappropriate touch

“Why do you look at me in that manner?”
Your filthy gaze is worse than your touch

A broken wing stapled with silence
I will never tell anyone where all you touch

Walking to class – they follow you
Those bees who want to touch

Shame and guilt twin pillars of a strange consent
You know a slap is also a form of touch

Those faces don’t belong to strangers
Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters — are who dare to touch

There is no bar that can restrict those pagans
Their tentacles twine and tempt to touch

These papers, these are your laws,
I laugh in your face – you heartless out of touch

Process this — a body is made aware
A childhood confused with types of touch

What will you heal?
You fucked up – “Oh I’m so touched”

Go write your articles, stand at pickets
Scream for justice – to those netas you can’t touch

“So much anger in you Amrita?”
“Wouldn’t you be if you prayed to remain untouched?”




2 responses to “CSAAM April 2013: Touch – A Ghazal”

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