Letter to an Unknown Friend of the Nation

Asad Ashraf for BeyondHeadlines

Dear Friend,

That evening of 16th December, when you decided to board that bus ridden by ghosts of patriarchs with its wheels moving on the roads  representing a culture of darkness, pain, where thousands like you have been barbarically silenced forever, because they accepted the challenge imposed upon them of walking past the darkness surrounding all such crossroads in the cities and the villages on the projected peripheries dominated by another set of, but more traditional patriarchs who have refused to bend down even superficially to the call of modernization  of the cities, you had rather once again accepted the challenge imposed upon you by these preservers of a rotten and worn out culture who expected you to be in kitchens of your home in the service of your male counterparts by that time, since how dare can their acclaimed property in your physical body dare to break away with such a norm? While these men could have carried out and settled the dealings for the day on the streets of our city. I thank you whole heartedly for taking on these chauvinists so bravely and fighting till the last breath from Safdarjung to queen Elizabeth hospital in Singapore with all the determination of spirited and convinced leadership which had brought millions of people on to the streets desperate to enter into all such labs where Brahmin cal values  are cultivated and then spread around through the institutions of their affiliations, failure of which even resorts to the oiling of the nuzzles of their guns.

You finally left us in despair and deep sadness before the sun could rise again on 29th December, two days before this year, echoing once again with sounds of oppression and cries of the victims would come to an end, with another set of resolutions on the both the sides of the oppressors and the oppressed, of establishing their hegemonic control over all of us and vow not to let any one of us walk freely beyond the social and cultural boundaries embarked upon us, on the other side we would have again vowed like every passed year to fight back against these rugs and rots at the cost of our blood trough the realm of ever single historical knowledge we posses at our clinic of enlightenment. With you being physically present would have beyond doubts given more strength to our fight against these evils prevalent till the last dusk of dawn, but do not even once think that we will let off your sacrifice go in vain, you must have heard how in the past ten days common people who preferred to keep themselves away from the participating in the domain of political and social change have come out on the streets and had almost captured the lieutenants parts of  Delhi,  shadowing a culture of authority and power at its every corner.

These common men and women who are otherwise busy with their day to day life of a family, friends and profession had left everything thing beside and flooded to the gates of Raisina hills demanding immediate justice for you , by you I don’t mean you in its literal form, this narrow you has evolved itself

Into a much broader spectrum of justice of which you my dear unknown comrade have become a symbol, This you is not confined to the urban cities of the likes of Delhi and Mumbai, you have penetrated deep beyond these cities and into the hubs of patriarchal values, whether that be the state of Haryana were khap panchayat is significantly present and is the most brutal shape of the age old institution symbolizing male domination over females and authority of castes and clans.

I don’t know who you were? What did you do? Where did you come from? What caste did you represent? What religion you subscribed to? Were you an atheist? Neither I am much interested in knowing that, since I consider all these attribute of human beings to be insignificant and the most narrowest form of identity which is always used by your oppressors to maintain the calculated balance which paves the way for their domination on us,  may be if you were a Dalit and it was known to the perpetrators they would have played every trick of their old games to keep the movement building against their control and domination at bay through the markers of caste and identity, so its better you remained an unknown name and have emerged only as a symbol of resistance against gender crimes in the shape of merely a female body with every mark on it representing horror against your breed in all other parts of this country and the world elsewhere.

I am sure when you were alive, you must have felt the same what we are feeling for you, when you would come across similar forms of crimes taking place in other parts of India including your own city Delhi, your eyes must have busted in tears when you would have heard of the mass rape in Gurrez in Kashmir at the hands of those who are supposedly being fighting terror under the immunity of Afspa,

Did you know of shophian where our sister Nilofer and Asiya were raped by the same men in green uniform? Kashmir is such a beautiful place with snow capped mountains and rivers on all sides, what spoils its beauty at all goes is the presence of these patriarchs and inhumane cults in human bodies which has engaged in so much barbarity with our brothers and sisters, who are forced to breathe in silence and unlike in your case the cameras and ink of our journalist fraternity also remains obedient to the same class of perpetrators of these crimes since, here plays the role of identity and the way it is used for water shedding all our seeds of resistance which have sowed in the past against these forms of inhumanity, needless to write but for my own satisfaction let me remind you of a photo taken by some journalist often circulated in the alternative media, in Manipur, where bunch of women had come on to the streets, without a piece of cloth covering their body with the slogan,” Indian army rape us publicly”, and these chauvinists  surrounded them with guns on their shoulders where as some women policemen tried to wrap their breasts and hips in a piece of cloth so that the sanctity of female body and its organs could be preserved  , how morally committed they are about preserving their sexual organs in the daylight of public view, while as soon as they a get a chance of having a taste of it, they get themselves rid of all the morality and  attack on every point of DEFINED” sanctity” of  a women’s body which they claim to be of preservers  through an enforced domination on her body and the mind, I don’t know if you knew about lalla devi, her story is even painful, she was a Dalit women who dreamt of owning a place to live for her and her family out of the money she received from the Indira Awas Yojna, while she was laying the bricks of the walls of her past long imagination, the nexus of money lenders and feudal attacked her, raped  her and destroyed all the efforts she had put in the construction of her dream, this happened in Allahabad, yes the same Allahabad,   where our first prime minister came from, did you ever imagine that this will happen to you also some day? Well I am sure, every time you heard about such incidence it would have been equally painful for you, the way it is for me and   for all those who have stood up for you, to ensure a fast track justice to you. I am convinced through the kind of determination and conviction you have shown to beat death in the past ten days, but unfortunately you succumbed to the injuries imposed upon your body physically and mentally, had you been alive today you would at all cost come out on streets with us to fight against all such evils ignoring every other factors displayed to you through the shady mirrors of caste, religion, class, nationalism, security and else.

You must have been getting updates on the protests which have taken place in the country in the aftermath of your rape, where thousands and thousands of people had gathered in different cities in the backdrop on one slogan “justice for you”,( by you again I mean all those rape victims who still wait for justice after years of sleepless nights and burdening days, you are not just you as an individual any more, you have become a symbol of Resistance, face of freedom of all those who have been  tied in the chains of  social clusters), These common men and women, young and old, had almost captured various temples of authority and refused to pull backwards until justice was not assured to you and the other victims of such brutality appearing in your unknown name and an unknown face, they didn’t have any weapons except the anger which had its roots of culmination ever since the foundation stone this oppressive social order was raised, they where fearless people of which I personally remain witness, despite all the efforts of the state machinery to wave off the dissent and install a sense of fear through the use of violent means such as brutal lathi charges and use of tear gas shells, they stood firmly and resisted all such efforts , see what you have done? You have made ordinary men come the streets and question these centers of power and their representatives about our security and above all the whole culture of violence against women and domination over her, which they have always facilitated to stay in power through collaborations with the actors of the crimes and times even because of their own mindsets. What was interesting to see during these protests was the presence of saffron brigade, who practice the worst form of patriarchy, coming on to the streets with us and demanding justice for women, what justice where they demanding is something which needs to be understood in an ugly political frame work, they were the same people who had raped innocent girls in Gujarat almost a decade ago in the most brutal and inhuman ways, they have always been seen moral policing at every events of celebration where young couples come out together, this is done by them in the name of preserving an age old culture in which they take utmost pride, not because they believe in it ideally, but because they know that its preservation is the only way to keep themselves at the helm of  domination, power and authority. The only justice they wanted here from the government was power sharing since they have remain ousted of power here in Delhi for the past one and a half decade, so their bodily was only meant to mark their presence in such a huge gathering and shed some tears of crocodile so that some sympathy could be shown upon them as an alternative to the already failed government in the centre and the state. This time because of our continuous efforts over years we did not let these goons take any bit of advantage of such a positive gathering and you will be glad to know that they were not only chased by the policemen there but too often by the genuine protestors.

Several slogans were chanted during these protests but the most vibrant one and the one which became the slogan of the movement was “hum kya chahtein aazadi” Azadi from the society, Azadi from patriarchy and all such social boundaries, Azadi to walk freely, Azadi to marry, Azadi to travel and Azadi against every such tradition which restrains our progress as civilization. Do you have an idea, of the sentiments you have aroused in these protestors? At least I never thought that such slogans of Azadi will be chanted on the streets of Delhi, once again after sixty five years of achieving freedom from the colonial rule, people are now demanding of liberation, this time Azadi from the leftovers of colonial legacies of which centers are based in Delhi.

All that of which I had the privilege to write to you in this letter is not even a thin reflection of all that I    wanted to narrate to you , words and space restricts the outburst of the sentiments inside me. These ten days,  from the time people were praying for your recovery to the day when you finally left us in despair and your funeral was carried out in the dark silence facilitated by the machinery which is responsible in victimizing you of the heinous crime committed on your body, have seen a birth or realizations towards the promised dream of democracy, this statement might signify too much of hope and positivity but yes if we carry forward the baton you have handed over to us in the same direction, this hope will definitely culminate into a reality of a new sunny day. Before I end this letter in drop it in an imaginative post office which could deliver this to you, here I pen down few lines from the poem I had written for the people struggling in Palestine against the Zionist atrocities, these lines suits best here in the context of courage displayed by you.

 She marches forward with baton

 Like the women of tomorrow and Rosa of the past,

 In desperation of a coming defeat,

 The noise from their tanks and the roar

 Of their air jets are thunderous now,

 Though we walk determined

 Towards our monsoon,

 While they keep us silencing,

 With their bullets and drones,

 Another millions of us who were

 Asleep in dreams of footing have roused,

 To the call of the final monsoon of liberation,

  Liberation of you and me!!

Thanks & Regards

Asad Ashraf

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