Fire in the Eye
Something had split apart, something had broken, hearts were broken and eyes were glazed. Fingers became fists. Fists were clenched
Amit Sengupta Delhi
Society is a Carnivorous Flower…
Graffiti, May 1968, students’ movement, Sorbonne, France
Above all, always feel strongly against any injustice committed against anyone in any part
of the world. This is a revolutionary’s most beautiful quality.
Che Guevara, in one of his last letters to his children, from Bolivia
Why only a revolutionary, I would say. This is a human being’s most beautiful quality. The protracted, relentless, restless fight against injustice. The infinite quest for justice. This beautiful quality became incandescent not only on the angry and angst-ridden streets of Delhi, where passionate and compassionate young women and men reclaimed their nights and days, their bodies, minds and souls, challenging the might of the Indian State in the VIP heart of Delhi. All over India, across small towns and big cities, village bylanes and metrocentric twilight zones, thousands of young and old, girls, boys, women and men, mothers, grandmothers, eyes moist with saline water, voices choked with grief and tired after relentless slogans, reclaimed public spaces, braved the cold nights, shared the warmth and strength of solidarity, the courage of holding hands and holding placards and banners, walking side by side, writing slogans on paper and posters, singing songs, lighting candles and bonfires, sharing flowers in the fog, standing in silent protest and prayer and silent mourning, speaking, shouting, screaming, singing, writing poetry on the streets, playing the guitar, thinking out loud the feminism of freedom, dignity and resistance.
Even in obscure Ballia in eastern UP, the original family home of the brave girl who fought, resisted, suffered so much pain, and finally left this world, humble schoolgirls of a humble school, in school uniforms, walked on the streets with placards. They looked stunned, angry and sad. From Goa to Nahan in Himachal Pradesh to Chennai and small towns of Bengal and villages in Bihar, from Bengaluru and Ranchi to the backwaters of Kerala and the hills of Uttarakhand, in the remotest zones of invisible India, people came out in thousands, many of them school and college girls, holding placards and posters, lighting candles. When others did not join, two young boys in Udaipur marched on their own with placards and stood in a public square. Soon, others joined them. The boys said, next, they will stand in the marketplace. Silent. In protest.
The entire nation fought, steadfast, scattered and united in emotion and action: Justice for her, they said. A chord has been struck somewhere in the intangible political unconscious of this huge and fragmented nation, stalked by violent machismo of men, vast swathes of unbearable hunger, poverty and stark inequality; something had snapped, so many strings had broken.
Even in obscure Ballia in eastern UP, humble schoolgirls of a humble school walked on the streets with placards
This sudden outburst of spontaneous resistance and protest erupted and bloomed like thousands of schools of thought and many hundred flowers. Something had split apart, something had broken, hearts were broken and eyes were glazed. Fingers became fists. Fists were clenched.
A new political consciousness of a new India has moved into multiple trajectories. A new eclectic aesthetic of resistance has found many streams of consciousness. This was an untamed river, clean, pristine, authentic and young, its waters flowing in all directions, rousing and cleaning at the same time, the rotten soul of this Indian democracy. This is a democracy where injustice has become a priori, vast economic disparity a daily norm of the ruling class and corporates, inequality and poverty, hunger and malnourishment, a fact of daily invisibility and epical suffering; and rape and violence against women a masculine barbarism celebrated across the landscape, often, with not an iota of justice.
Remember Soni Sori. Remember Manorama of Manipur. Remember the mothers of Manipur who stripped naked, protesting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the rape and murder of Manorama. Remember the tribal girl, stripped and assaulted in full public view in Guwahati. Remember Bilquees Bano and all the other women of Gujarat, who were raped, tortured, gangraped, chopped into pieces, often thrown alive into a fire as a public spectacle by the fascist barbarians of Narendra Modi. So, will we allow the “successful experiment” of Gujarat to be repeated all over India?
Remember the nun of Kandhamal raped by marauders, even as the VHP ran amok. Remember the Sikh women of November 1984, who saw it all with their eyes. Remember the tribal women of Chhattisgarh raped and murdered by Raman Singh’s forces and Salwa Judum. Remember the girls of Shopian in Kashmir, raped and murdered. Remember all the invisible rapes and killings in this wasteland of India where justice is forever delayed and eternally denied. Remember. And light a candle. And spread the word. And resolve to fight against all kinds of injustice against anyone, here, there, everywhere. Remember. Clench your fist. Shout a slogan. Sing a song. Join the march. Break the barricade.