Civil Rights

Do You Want to Build a Gay Snowman?

frozen imageThe other day, a friend of mine pointed me to a blog post that she wanted a second opinion on. She had read the post and asked herself afterwards,  “Is this woman bat shit crazy? Or, is it me?”

After reading the post and wondering why on earth some people choose to blog and reveal such crazy, I assured her that she was not the one with the issue for disagreeing with the blog, in spite of the number of comments applauding the author. I also told my friend that if she was crazy, then I was full on LOCO. Yes. In all caps.

Rather than send you to the post and have you contribute any page views to this woman’s blog or her ego, I will summarize the basis for this gem of internet published work.

In her post, she argues that the song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen is about coming out and therefore, should not be supported or shown to kids because that’s not how Jesus would roll.

She then went on to write all the lyrics out and expanded on her theory in a torrent of words that were filled with homophobia, hate and ignorance. Shrouded in lots of Christianity.

If you know me at all, you know that at first I got irate. Angry. Really, really annoyed that viewpoints like this are shared with such condescension. That some people feel it’s alright to condone intolerance and hatred by arguing “But God wants it that way!” to close their argument.

I read through some of the comment storm and it was torturous. She got a lot of “Right on, sister!” and “Holla!” type of feedback from many who went on to quote some passage of the Bible to strengthen their argument.

I had to shut it down because I was getting so pissed off.

Why? It doesn’t take much to have a blog. A monkey could have a blog. In fact, a monkey could have written a better blog, I think. At least one that was slightly less hateful. So, it’s not like this person’s opinion should really matter to me. She had no qualifications she could point to other than being Christian and loving Jesus. I am not Christian, but I  found myself deeply offended for the non-homophobic, loving and accepting ones who might be a whole lot less inclined to believe that Frozen is a work of gay propaganda. I also found myself deeply offended for Jesus who doesn’t deserve that kind of company.

I am also just annoyed because whenever I watch that movie from now on, I will think of her stupid post. (Sorry if I have ruined it for any of you as well).

I know at the end of the day, not everyone will embrace or accept homosexuality. I get that. I understand that there will always be some confinement around beliefs that even time and more societal acceptance will not break down. It doesn’t make me happy but I am a realist. Haters are gonna hate.

If the movie Frozen is really about brainwashing kids into accepting someone’s sexual orientation, even if it might be different than their own, I will play it on repeat once it’s out on DVD. I will belt out the songs and teach my kids all the words and then sing some more, well beyond when they cover their tiny little ears and beg me to stop.

Haters are gonna hate, but if I’ve done anything right, my kids won’t be one of them.

P.S. I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

P.P.S. Except when it’s wrong.

XO,

Kiran

Bonbon Break

Simply Om

Dear Friends,

For a while, I’ve been talking about starting a yoga inspired jewelry company called Simply Om. I’ve had the idea for a long time – I kept thinking it was interesting how many people did yoga and didn’t know what the word “Namaste” meant.

I’ve written this before, so bear with me if you’ve seen it already.

Namaste, loosely translated, means the divine in me sees and honors the divine in you.

I sat on the idea for a while. Wouldn’t it be great to bring this concept, the idea behind namaste, to people in some way? Maybe, through fashion? Not just that, but in a way that was empowering, that was authentic, that gave back to those in need in some way.

As you can tell, I had pretty lofty dreams.

But then, it got even more complicated.

As I started figuring out how I was going to source this journey, I began to realize that it wasn’t just about selling something with a message. It was about ensuring the creation of what I was selling had a message too. I realized that the manufacturing of jewelry often has a not so beautiful side of it, to put it mildly. A side where child labor, unfair wages and unsafe working conditions can be really prevalent.

“Well, that sucks,” I thought. I was starting to realize there was nothing “simple” about creating Simply Om at all. The word “Om” in Sanskrit is associated to consciousness. Where was the consciousness in potentially knowing this jewelry was from a sweatshop somewhere in Bangladesh or Thailand?

And so I started doing research and just a whole lot of digging around fair trade into the early hours of the morning. And what I discovered is that there are amazing brands that are emerging in this world that are trying to help people in hugely oppressed situations, both economically and sometimes, socially.

Often, these two things go hand in hand.

Most of these brands are working directly with women to empower them. While they all have different missions – at the heart of it is the belief that if you empower a woman and give her a future, by training her and giving her an opportunity to sustain herself in an otherwise bleak situation, she will not have to beg. She will not have to turn to prostitution to feed her children. She can take care of herself with the right healthcare access and give her children the opportunity to thrive.

When I ask you to check Simply Om out and spread the word, it is not about pity for these people. It is because I love what they have created, with all of my heart. And I will do what I can to help spread the word, because I do believe that there are ways we can shop NOW that can pave the way for enormous social change.

People say you can’t change the world.

I disagree.  Simply Om is a product of the collective belief that we CAN.

The jewelry is a link to these women and their lives. The pieces made in Ethiopia out of recycled gun casings by HIV positive women whose only option might be to beg. These pieces are beyond words when you see them and wear them. They are stunning. But I think what’s more stunning is knowing what they mean. The many colorful, bright and bold pieces we carry made by women in Uganda out of 100% recycled paper. They signify the importance of sustainability – not just for our planet, but our fellow humans who are full of talent and hope, but often without opportunity.

This is just the beginning. I have a lot more site to build, a lot more awareness I’d like to create and a lot more jewelry design teams & brands I’d like to partner with.

In the meantime, thank you helping me get here. If you could help spread this message and hit share, I would be so grateful.

Namaste,

Kiran

P.S. Here are some pictures which can all be found on the site. But just in case you miss them…

hedieh and hana small

The bracelet and necklace above are a combination of silver and gold beads made out of recycled gun casings. They are so intricately made and are fabulous.

rowena face on acai

This beautiful necklace and bracelet wrap comes in lots of bright colors for the summer. They are made in Ecuador with Acai berries from the rainforest, and gold beads.

Hedieh blue dress acai necklace and bracelet edits

Acai Berries and Pambil Seeds – all from the Rainforest. Because of the high demand of these beads and seeds, they are actually creating a greater effort to preserve the rainforest.

 

heather in steel

 This bib necklace is made out of Tagua Seeds from the rainforest and have been dyed to make amazing statement pieces in all sorts of colors.

P.P.S.  Some of you have asked who these gorgeous women are – the first is Hedieh – she is my incredibly talented hairstylist. She is in pictures 1 & 3. In picture 4 is Heather, our Au Pair from Wales. You might know her as the girl who talks to dead people. And the lovely redhead is Rowena, Heather’s friend who was visiting from Wales.

So, yes. All the models on the site are friends. Yes. I have good looking friends. Not intentionally in an Abercrombie kind of way, but I am fortunate they, along with their nice cheekbones, have supported me!

Closer to AMAZING

“I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
 And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all”

Some of you know this about me. I love music. (Look at the top menu bar. It takes up about half of the drop downs). It is one of my greatest passions and has been since I was a child. Musical influences have had a huge impact on my life.

Music has been love and warmth when I felt I had none in my life.

Music has been inspiration when my mind and heart didn’t know which way to go.

Music lifted my soul like love, or what I thought was love, often couldn’t.

I discovered the Indigo Girls when I was in high school. They were an anchor for me in a time in my life where I couldn’t even find my way back to shore. They centered me, grounded me, and opened my eyes to what was missing in my own life.

I don’t think I understood the enormity of what the Indigo Girls were saying when I first heard “Closer to Fine” in high school decades ago. Perhaps if I had, I would have realized that I wasn’t so alone, that there were people who were dealing and coping and getting by.

And in the end, it’s only life after all.

Yeah.

Amy and Emily from “The Indigo Girls” are without a doubt two of the most influential musicians in my life. While I always loved the Indigo Girls, it was in my mid twenties that I really turned to them. I had come out of a bad breakup and was a little worse for the wear.  After begging, and Begging and BEGGING and B!E!G!G!G!I!N!G! my ex to take me back (he didn’t, but I wasn’t really asking or anything) and then telling him I hated him (I didn’t, but I DID, but I didn’t, ya know?) and then drinking and crying to repeat this vicious cycle, I decided I needed to well…

Maybe find a hobby.

So I did what I knew. I put on my running shoes and I ran.

And ran.

But it wasn’t enough and I just wasn’t having my “Forrest Gump” moment. I needed something else. Something other than the following options which I had exhausted and had done little for me:

  • I had to stop calling my ex and calling him bad names while pleading with him to come back to me. I quickly realized that this was bad form. Not pathetic, exactly. More like, extremely pathetic.
  • I had to stop going out to the bars in Arlington. This just lead to more bad calls and lots of snot and mascara on my face. Not pretty, exactly. More like, REALLY not pretty.
  • I had to stop pounding the pavement. I was running over 50 miles a week. My knees hurt. Ouch.

And so I went to Fox’s music in Falls Church, VA and bought my first guitar.

And I started to learn how to play.

And I sucked. Like, I was not just bad.

I was just terrible.

But I went for it. And the nights where I wanted to “stop by a bar at 3 AM and seek solace in a bottle” I decided I would sit right down on my couch and teach myself my favorite Indigo Girls songs.

Closer to Fine. Romeo & Juliet. Kid Fears. Galileo. Nashville. Blood & Fire.

I cried. But I healed. And I got better. And I healed some more.

And I was so proud when I learned, that I dragged my guitar with me every where and performed one man talent shows (oh, you guys don’t do that?) for my family.

When that got old, I started going to open mikes, encouraged by one of my best friends, Sang. But that got old after a while too.

So I accosted a guy in a bar (It was more like 8 PM) named Kevin Sambat during one of his gigs and told him he needed to not sing alone. He would later become my good friend and bandmate, and we started singing in Northern VA and DC together.

And just think, none of this would have happened without the Indigo Girls.

Another big impact that they had on me – Amy and Emily being two of the coolest women in the world (whom I was (am) obviously non-sexually (ok, maybe just a little) crushing on) made me realize that…

I. love. lesbians.

Yes, I love lesbians.

Not romantically, but as sisters. Listening to their emotionally charged songs and the power and conviction in them brought out a new found appreciation for what my gay and lesbian friends, who have had to deal with social exclusion because of their sexuality, were REALLY dealing with.

Emily and Amy made me realize that while I had felt alone a LOT in my life, maybe I hadn’t been there enough for my gay friends who couldn’t or hadn’t yet acknowledged this core part of who they were. And while I always cared about gay rights, maybe I care just a little bit more because of that awareness I think they awakened in me.

I learned a lot about life, love and self acceptance from the songs of the Indigo Girls. Some of my favorite memories are with different groups of great female friends at their concerts, screaming and singing like my heart was on fire and my lungs were alive. No matter how many times I saw them perform.

Without these two women, I don’t know if I ever would have learned the power of my own voice. I guess I never thought anybody wanted to hear it.

And if I don’t value it, really why the hell would anyone else?

So yeah, the Indigo Girls helped me find my voice. How could I ever forget that and not acknowledge them here? Ok, I know they are not winning a Grammy – its just my blog. But still, writing this honors the part of me that will always respect these two women, who showed me some core truths I hope to always share with my daughter and son.

Embrace your individuality.
Even if its unpopular.
Even if its scary. BOO!
Even if you just want to retreat and safely be like everyone else. Which is absolutely fine. But not if its not who you are.

Honor yourself.

“I wrapped my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores.”

The funny thing is in this journey which has now evolved to blogging and writing. I find that my voice is loud. And sometimes, people don’t like it. And it angers some. It has pushed away some friends. Sometimes, it even embarrasses my family.

And boy, do I like it.

I LIKE MY VOICE.

Especially when I have a cold and I get that really sexy, husky thing going.

That’s awesome.

But I’m not wrapped in fear anymore.

I sunk being safe before. Screw safety.

And I don’t have to crawl. I won’t crawl unless it seems like its the best option.

Like, if I am trying to exfoliate my knees at the beach.

And that gets me just a little bit closer to not just fine… but AMAZING.

 

 

 

 

 

Love who you are. And go listen to some Indigo Girls.

There’s Some Scary at Scary Mommy

I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel about recent gun violence in America. It’s over at Scary Mommy today. I want to make a few points clear:

1) My post does NOT call for the disarmament of Americans.

2) My reference to technology is to bring the discussion back to the point of perspective. We keep going back to the 2nd Amendment as if it is infallible or impossible to believe that it needs to be revisited. I am not suggesting the revocation of the law, but for us to evaluate what that means under the context in which we live.

3) Yes, driving a car without a license is illegal in all states, despite the Twitter storm that tried to tell me otherwise. For the guys who were on my back yesterday trolling the guncontrol hashtag on Twitter, if you have found some nuanced way under some provisional law where you can operate a vehicle without a license and not have the vehicle registered, congratulations. Those are not the guidelines most Americans live under.

And I don’t know many cops who would pull someone over and say, “Oh, you don’t have a license? Don’t worry. I just need your Passport. You only need a license to buy booze anyway.

4) This post does not in any way imply that we DON’T have a mental health situation on our hands in America. Proper mental health care, support and evaluation are a necessary component to a healthy society. We have a LOT of problems in America that contribute to crime. This post is strictly talking about what kind of regulation and enforcement should be in place around guns.

5) I believe that people should have the right to own guns for self-defense, protection and hunting. That is not being contested. What I am asking you to do is to set aside the guns for a moment and ask what the limits are to keep society safe and civilized. To keep our children safe. If you really believe that arming every American is the answer, I ask you to tell me what your vision is for this country. For our children.

Tell me with a straight face that you believe that’s what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

If anyone tells me that Thomas Jefferson’s vision was for us to applaud the idea of a Rambo nation in America, that person is clearly not familiar with anything about TJ, the founder of my Alma Mater, UVA.

6) Since Newtown, I have heard people call the massacre a “ploy” by the Federal government. I have seen a man who saved children that day being called an actor and a pedophile by gun control advocates. I have seen parents grieve but I feel like their grief is tarnished by those who are so extreme to call this a conspiracy.

I mean, I can’t even believe I have to write this, it’s so completely ridiculous.

I don’t know much about you people, but I have feeling a lot of you are part of the discussion over at Scary Mommy.

Thank you for confirming what I have thought.

I really should be scared. We all should.

My post was written with the knowledge that even if I just asked why we don’t call for greater regulation and enforcement around gun laws, that I would get a lot of opposition. That my words might be twisted or misinterpreted.

It happens.

Excuse me. It happened.

You’re either here because you agree. Or you’re here because you have issue with my sentiments.

In either case, thank you for visiting.

Before you comment I ask you to read this incredibly important piece. Wrestling With Details of Noah Pozner’s Killing. It’s a hard piece to read. One person in the article said, “I didn’t need to read that” about the kind of detail that was shared about what the guns actually physically did to the kids in Newtown. And what their bodies looked like when the parents wanted to cradle them in their arms.

We can handle the inconvenience of reading that. Just like those children had the horrifying inconvenience of living that and like their tormented parents have to remember after seeing that.

Every American needs to know what that means before they weigh in.

Kiran

Like My Gake?!

Most of you have probably seen this picture by now, which is making its rounds online. It’s a  young woman’s coming out letter to her parents. The young woman, Laurel  also leaves a cake for her family to sweeten the message.

The message reads:

Good morning parents,

I’m gay. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I thought doing it this way would be a piece of cake. I hope you still love me. I mean, it’s hard not to love someone who baked you a cake.

All my friends know and still love me. Your acceptance would be the icing on the cake.

I hope you, much like this cake, are not in tiers.

I hope we can look back at this and say, “boy, this one really takes the cake.”

It gets batter.

Love,

Laurel

(Sorry for so many puns)

I posted this on my Facebook wall as soon as I saw it. Because I think it’s brilliant. It’s funny.

It’s vulnerable.

And I have wondered after posting this how Laurel’s parents received the message. What approach did they take when they heard the news?

And of course, how the cake tasted.

Approach One – Love it and Embrace Her for ALL of it.

It’s obvious from the letter that Laurel has a great sense of humor. I wonder if her parents were the ones who imparted Laurel with their humor and spirit. Did they laugh and throw their arms around her? Grab a slice of cake and tell her how proud they are of her, no matter what? And, how did she know they had been craving cake?

Approach Two – Greater Reservations – Need Time to Process

Or…. did they look at each other in shock, the father absentmindedly going through the normal routine of brewing the coffee while the  mother read the letter again, licking some frosting off  her finger. Did they take a slice of the cake to the table with their coffee before they sat down and held each others’ hands to talk about the message?

To talk about what all of it means.

That response would be okay too. Not everyone would be jumping up and down in the air about a declaration like this. Some parents need time to process this.

When did Laurel know?

How long has she been trying to tell them?

They might need time to figure out how this changes their expectations of things. To understand how they need to support their child.

To maybe even grieve a little.

Why grieve?

Because that mother may have had an idea since Laurel was born that she would have a traditional wedding. That she would have a traditional family. That she would one day be a grandparent to Laurel’s beautiful children from her husband.

And while some of those things can still happen, what she envisioned won’t ever align to what will play out in reality. So it’s important to acknowledge and understand that she might need that time.

Approach 3 – Don’t Accept

And maybe, just maybe. Did one of the parents look at the cake and throw it across the room while the other parent looked at the note and say, “You thought you would buy us a cake to tell us that you’re a goddamn lesbian? What the hell kind of message is that to give to your parents? With a Duncan Hines cake?”

And I am really hopeful that Laurel did not see that kind of reaction.

What Approach Would I Take?

So here’s where I am going. I don’t know what happened in Laurel’s house. I pray that her family is loving and supportive and will do everything they can to make sure she knows that their love for her does not changes.

If my kids left me that cake? I would probably cry. Tears of joy and love and happiness that they feel they have enough support from their parents to know that we will always love them. I would be ecstatic. Even if I don’t like cake. I would eat every calorie in that cake.

I have always said I will embrace my children, no matter what their sexuality is. Things I worry about as a mother are my children falling down the wrong path at some point in life. I worry not about the sex of the partner they choose – but the quality of partner that they choose. No matter what, I just want them to find love in the truest way with someone who loves them back as selflessly as I know my own kids will love.

There are so many things I want for my kids in this life, but ultimately, it’s their happiness that matters the most to me. Their fulfillment.

So I guess the question is, how would you respond if a child came out to you this way?

For now I am off to bed. But when I wake, let them eat cake!

Kiran

Stop. Drop. And Play Dead.

The other day (okay, a few weeks ago), I was working out at the gym, taking a break between sets during an intense leg workout. Well, let’s be honest. It was a leg workout, made intense by the fact that it involved work.

I don’t know what triggered the thought, but as I finished taking a sip from my water bottle, I remember thinking to myself,

“If a shooter were to walk in right now and start shooting up this place, would I have anywhere to hide? Where is the emergency exit? Do I know how to play dead?”

Not so bizarre. Not anymore.

I find myself thinking about those things more and more these days. I don’t think it’s hubris – I’ve never been one to be paranoid about protecting my life. I will jump on a trans-Atlantic flight, go on the most daredevil, heart-pounding roller-coaster and can go on a passionate carbohydrate binge that would have me banned from South Beach forever.

When I was in elementary school, we did fire and safety drills all the time. Every year, the firemen would come in and reiterate the same message about how the real dangers of fire were not in the flames, initially, but in the fumes.

“Stop! Drop! And ROLL!” We were taught and we would have to demonstrate one by one that we knew how to do the roll.

“Roll away from the smoke!” The firemen would indicate where the fake smoke was coming from.

And we would have to get on the floor and roll down the hallway or the pavement, with our arms pressed against our sides.

And now I wonder if I am supposed to be teaching my children how to play, “Stop. Drop. And play dead” instead.

Reality Check.

I watched the news the day of the Newtown shooting from my office. When I first saw word of the gun shooting online, it had estimated two dead. When I was leaving the office to grab lunch and passed by the TV, my heart dropped when I saw the revised numbers.

A few of my colleagues were standing with me and one of them said, “Yeah, just watch the gun control freaks have a field day with this one.”

My idea of field day is quite different than anything I saw in the news that day or in the following weeks about what happened in Newtown. See, having a field day involves doing things like a 50 yard dash or playing tug of war. Jumping towards a finish line in a potato sack.

It doesn’t involve children being slaughtered to death.

“It’s not guns that kill people!” my co-worker explained. “People kill people.”

Yeah. No shit, Sherlock. People kill people. Usually with guns.

Of course there are other weapons and other means to kill. But that doesn’t mean that anything has the power of an assault weapon of the caliber used in Newtown.

So call me a freak. But first call me an American.

I am an American. Born and raised on this soil, I am proud of my country. I’m a patriot. I love my country. Like most things I love, like my husband, my children, my family, my friends and even myself – I love my country, not with the false belief that it is perfect. I am under no illusions that my country is perfect.

A blind love is never a healthy love, you see.

Being a patriot to this country is not just in honoring those who fight in the name of this country. It’s not standing with a hand on my heart during the pledge or even the fact that I often cry during the National Anthem.

Being a patriot to this country also means acknowledging the imperfections that tarnish the soil that we love. It means acknowledging that what was done to the Native Americans in a quest to drive them away from their homes was a travesty. It means acknowledging the stains of our own intolerance in the Japanese internment camps that were a part of this land.

“This lands was made for you and me.” It’s a beautiful song. But it’s hardly one that we have always sung together.

Being an American patriot means acknowledging that slavery existed in this country even while the Founding Fathers were writing a document that we immortalize with reverence.  There was a time when American fought against American in this land because of the difference in opinion that we could “own” the bodies of other men and women. Our fellow brothers and sisters. It means recognizing that segregation in this country existed until just a few decades ago.

So I’m an American. I love this country but I won’t ignore the flaws of our past and look at anything in our history or any document in our history as beyond questioning.  As unquestionable or perfect in any way.

The Founding Fathers. They were mortals. They wrote the Constitution under the crushing pressure of trying to obtain freedom from England.

They were people who made mistakes. They were people who did not have a crystal ball. They were Renaissance men, the lot of them, yet they had no concept of things like the Industrial Revolution. They never imagined cars. They didn’t ever foresee large vessels that could fly across oceans in the air or do the same things in the deepest recesses of our oceans.

They never saw a television. They never saw a man walk on the moon. They never imagined the mass production and unethical means in which we would harvest our animals. They never had the internet. Or a phone. Or electricity.

They owned muskets. They had harpoons.

Muskets, people.

They never imagined gang wars. They never saw the technology that could create guns that could kill so many people so quickly. They never saw an AK-47 blow someone’s head off. They never imagined the number of civilian deaths, that would take place and grow each year on American soil

I will tell you one thing. They never imagined Columbine. They never imagined Newtown.

“Don’t take away my Second Amendment freedoms!”

Settle down. First of all, let’s stop looking at this as religious scripture. And stop attacking anyone who asks if guns should not be better regulated in this country. Well, if the laws we have are not enforced, then we don’t need more laws. We need enforcement and we need laws that make sense.

I feel like we are sitting at a critical juncture as a country. There will be another shooting. There might be another Newtown. There is just a sense of when, how, where? that I feel smothers us like a blanket.

I just want to know why I feel like the moment I question better regulation, people feel like their rights to own guns are being threatened? Hey, nobody’s saying you can’t hunt. Nobody’s saying you can’t own guns for self-defense. Heck, keep your arsenal for your hypothetical militia.

We have a problem here. An epidemic, if you will. Why is proper licensing of guns not considered acceptable? Why are more stringent licensing practices not being issued?

I keep hearing, “Well people will get guns without licenses!”

Probably. But it will be illegal and they should be penalized under the law. A person cannot legally drive in this country without getting a license. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t driving illegally every day. But that’s no excuse to stop overseeing it.

And why do we do that? Why do we require driver’s licenses? Because we like waiting online at the DMV? Because we like the way we look in the pictures? Does anyone actually like to go through the process of car inspections, vehicle registrations and wasting half a day at the DMV. Every stupid year? For every vehicle you own?

No. It’s a goddamn pain in the ass is what it is. But you do it. And it makes sense.

We do it because we know the power we hold behind the wheel. We know that we can kill, we can destroy, we can maim if we don’t know what we’re doing.

So why then? Why, why would we allow people to own guns without the appropriate training? Without appropriate documentation of what guns are where? And if it’s because we are going to talk about the people needing a way to raise a militia against the government, the people who are raging about wanting to have a right to raise a militia are usually the people I would NEVER want to see raise a militia.

That’s right. You people scare me.

I don’t know what will happen if I am at that gym in a middle of a workout and a gunman comes in raging. I haven’t thought through that yet. But I know that I think about my children every day. And my friends’ children. And my neighbors’ children.

And I’m not ready to teach them to stop, drop and play dead.

Something needs to change.

Her Name Was Jyoti

Mourners at a candlelight vigil
Photo – latimes.com

A woman lies naked on the side of the road.

She is bleeding profusely. The flash of headlights rushing by barely registers and she can hear the screams from her friend, who seems to be asking for help. He sounds like a broken record. She vaguely remembers them beating him, and trying to call the police on her mobile phone. That was before they had snatched the phone from her hands and moved on to her.

Another pair of headlights goes by, even faster this this time, her friend’s shouts growing weaker. She knows his last pleas are ignored as she feels a layer of dirt and rocks kick off the tires of the passing vehicle and hit her tender skin in a light hailstorm of earth. She wanders in and out of consciousness, barely aware of time. The minutes seem like hours, the hours feel like days.

Yesterday feels like it was a lifetime ago.

She thinks of her family. She tries to find comfort in the things she loves. Her movies. Her friends. She and her friend were just coming back from seeing “The Life of Pi,” one of her favorite books. She won’t let her mind go back to what happened after that. Somewhere between when she boarded the bus and when they threw her and her friend out of the bus. She can’t think about what just happened to her and the men who did it to her. Each memory feels like another wound, another blow, another thrust.

Into nothingness.

The world goes black.

A woman lies naked on the side of the road.

She is struggling to breathe, not realizing that she is slowly dying. Inside she feels like she might be dead already. At one point, as the men handed her off from one to the other, she had stopped fighting. She could never win, physically, this she knew. She had heard the men encouraging each other, congratulating each other after each had their turn with her. She had felt their flesh and the the unyielding stabs of the metal stick they had violated her with.

She wanders in and out of blackness. Is this it? Is this how it ends? she thinks. I am someone’s sister. I am someone’s daughter. I am someone’s friend. I had thought that maybe one day, I would be someone’s wife. Someone’s mother. Someone’s grandmother.

I was not supposed to die like this, she thinks. Not like this. Not today. As someone’s nobody. That much she knows. That much they cannot take away from her. She knows she is worth more than this, that this is not her shame. 

A woman lies naked on the side of the road.

Her insides have been crushed by the iron rod that was ruthlessly thrust into her again and again and again. Several organs have been ruptured and damaged, which explains the flood of blood surrounding her,  surrounding her naked body. The police will finally come, though there is some confusion about how to get her to the hospital it seems, and discussion of whose jurisdiction this falls into. She can hear the sirens and her friend yelling, “Bachao! Bachao!” (Save us. Save us) and someone seems to finally have heard. She does not know that by the time she makes it to the hospital it will be too late. Two hours too late to prevent her death.

A woman lies naked on the side of the road.

Her name is Jyoti.

And it was NOT her day to die.

******************************

The media has been covering the brutal murder and rape that occurred in New Delhi last week and took the life of a 23 year old woman. The woman’s father has decided to come out and publicly announce to the world that he is not ashamed to tell the world his daughter’s name. He wants her to be known as more than the woman who was gang-raped and killed in New Delhi. He wants to give other rape victim’s the courage to step forward to reveal their identities and to not live in shame of the crimes committed against them, not BY them.

The woman’s name is Jyoti Singh Pandey. She was 23 years old.

This piece is a work of fiction. None of us will ever know Jyoti’s thoughts or the terror she went through on that night. It is a torment that no woman should ever bear. When the official death of this woman, this CHILD, was announced last week, not only did her family mourn. Strangers from around the world mourned and grieved with them.

They grieved for a nameless woman.

And now we grieve for a girl with a name. Below is an image of Jyoti’s father who came forward to announce that his daughter’s name should be known.

 

There is something about the look in his eyes that I feel has haunted me since I saw his face in the article by The Mirror yesterday. They speak of a grief in this world that no man or woman should have to bear. I pray for Jyoti’s family that they will find a way to honor her memory and that seeing Jyoti’s name will bring other victims forwards. I pray that her friend recovers and can live his life without being forever haunted by the horror of that night.

I pray that this tragedy sparks a revolution in this world. Let nobody shy away from railing against the injustice of these travesties.

Every rape victim on this earth is somebody’s everything.

It is little wonder that rape is one of the least-reported crimes. Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.” – Freda Adler

In memory and honor of Jyoti Singh Pandey. R.I.P.

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MEET KIRAN

I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....

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