‘Betrayal’ (For Sugirtharani) by Gita Jayaraj

You tell me that I have betrayed my own
Because I do not write about the
Struggles and the persecution.
My words do not, you say, reveal the
Humiliation faced by mine –
Ancestors, Fathers, Uncles, Brothers.
You tell me that I have betrayed my own
Because I write about my body,
Because I will no longer let you tell me
What I should feel, say or write
About my face, hair breasts or hips.
You tell me that my songs
Must usher in a revolution
Of swelling crowds, whose fury
Suppressed over centuries
Distends till it bursts
And brings forth a new world order.
But every revolution that I have known
Down the ages, over centuries
Has always been about oppression
As you choose to understand it.
Mine are of another kind
Of a people doubly denied.
Every revolution I have seen
Has plundered, looted, and ripped my womb
Whether I was on the winning
Or the losing side.
As you are carried
On the crests of victory
Or revel in the orgies of martyrdom
The only thing that remains with me
Are the broken bodies – me and mine
Sisters, cousins, daughters, mothers!
The only words that I now have
Are my songs, my dirges, my chants
My body, my breasts, my womb, my hair
Things that make and unmake me
More immediately than you will ever know
But even after you try to silence me
And stifle and gag
My every pore,
My songs will still be around
As a voice that hums in your head
An air that worries you
With its insistence…

Gita Jayaraj is a freelance writer and currently a PhD research scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT-Madras. She has an MPhil from the Centre of Linguistics and English, JNU. Gita has worked extensively in academic publishing and technical documentation. She has worked with the corporate sector, non-government organizations and has been involved in academics/education as an independent researcher, writer, and editor. 

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