Someone once told me to look at my pain as if I was watching a movie. He told me to watch myself acting in it. Yesterday I watched that movie.
A child, chubby, curly hair in pigtails, 2 or maybe 3 years, it’s unclear. It’s dark. She’s lying on a pile of bricks on her back, her head hanging down so she sees the world upside down. She looks around a semi-constructed building that was deserted mid-completion. Brick walls without any plastering on the walls, no doors, no windows, heaps of sand, stone chips and sacks of cement crowding, littering the dark, dingy half constructed room.
She’s lying there on her back. No…not lying. She’s being held down. She feels someone in parts of her body she doesn’t know exist. She’s not crying because she is terrified. She is holding her breath for her turn to be over. It’s her sister’s turn next. She’s a year younger.
Jump shot. A girl, 12 or maybe 13, short cropped hair, chubby, thick glasses. She reads all the time because she doesn’t really have much else to do. People in her class don’t talk much to her during lunch and don’t take her into their hide and seek or basketball games. So she reads. She is reading “Bitter Chocolate”. She hadn’t known what the book was about when she checked it out of the library. She just liked the word “chocolate” in it.
She reads it in bed, sneaking it under her desk in class, the lonely corner of the football field during lunch. And without even looking up from the book, she finally realises what had happened to her 10 years ago. She knows what it is called. She knows it was wrong. But she can’t tell her mother because it’s been so long. Her mother might ask why she didn’t say anything earlier. Her mother might not believe her. Her mother might be angry with her for creating family feuds. So she never tells.
Her first street fight, her first pint, the first joint, and that over and over and over again. And all the time she kept telling herself she had every excuse to abuse herself and others because she’d had a traumatic childhood. It was her karmic payback to the world. She was justified in doing all these fucked up things because she had had a fucked up life.
And then when she is 18 years, she walks into the oldest and largest red light area in South-East Asia, for no morally magnificent purpose. She needed money and a job teaching the children of commercial sex workers was giving her just that. Soon she is drawn to conversations with the commercial sex workers, as to sirens, never ending, winding, conversations, which she continues thinking about long after they are over.
She has an epiphany of shame. These women had faced abuse that you wouldn’t believe if you read about. But they weren’t using it as an excuse to abuse their children or become alcoholics or slit their wrists. They woke up every morning, strong and brave and glowing bright and the faced that abuse all over again. They sent their children to school and made the best of their lives.
And with this epiphany stopped the abuse of self and of others because there really was no excuse, no justification for it.
She realised that by the time these women of wisdom had gotten accustomed to the streets they could take care of themselves. They had switch knives tucked in their pettycoats that they were not afraid to swing. they knew all the dangers in the world and they had learnt how to protect themselves best against them.
But when they were really vulnerable was when they were innocent, young, village belles, being trafficked into the brothels of the cities. They didn’t know that the man they were marrying would sell her into a lifetime of sexual abuse, they never suspected their uncle to drug them and transport them, they never could imagine their parents would be in such dire need of money that they would sacrifice her life for her brother’s. And that is really where the problem lay and where it had to be nipped in the bud.
Thus, Kranti was born, out of pain and the realisation that the pain shouldn’t be an excuse to inflict abuse but to end it.