MA SHAKTI

Against the backdrop of the recent murder of a Pakistani model by her brother under the guise of “honour killing” and by similar unfortunate occurrences, including female foeticide, in our part of the world, here’s my (admittedly oblique) take, with my friend Nandita very kindly doing the honours in Hindi. With all the progress our countries have made, some social evils very evidently, still need to be stamped out.

IN ENGLISH

Briefly, her roshni burnt brightly.
The flame, light energy of the female divine.
Flickering, dancing, casting light and shadow.
Lit as a diya in mandirs, offered as a chirag at mazaars.

And then, she was extinguished.
Doused by her guardian.
He, who was meant to replenish the oil in the earthen pot
and shield the warm glow from the swirling winds.
So that she could have shone on as a beacon.

The wick hung limp.
The wisp of smoke dissipated in a haze.
The leftover soot became a matt black residue.
A stain on society.

But even as darkness enveloped,
New kandeels lit up in households
From the ashes of what remained.
Heralding the oncoming of a new Diwali.

Had a spark escaped to illuminate them?
Could it be noor, the heavenly light?

Or a mashaal, kindled by the awakening of the collective conscience?

Ma Shakti – the Mother Goddess
roshni – light
diya / chirag – small, earthen lamps (customarily offered the same way as candles are lit in churches)

mandir – Hindu temples
mazaars – Muslim shrines
kandeels – traditional paper lanterns put up on festive days
Diwali – festival of lights, symbolizing the victory of good over evil
noor – divine light
mashaal – torch

IN HINDI

Diya jalti thi chamak se
Jyot daiviya roop ka
Prajjwalit tha Mandir mein deepak ki tarah
Jaise chirag mazhar mein

Yakayak bujh gayi
Nahin! Bujhayi gayi
Jyot ko jagane ki thi jinpe ummid
Unse hi mitayi gayi

Baati ab bejaan
Dhuwa tak ka namo nishan nahi rahaa 
Samaaj par ek kalank banke rah gayi

Is andhakaar ke beech mein lekin
Ek nayi roshni nazar aayi
Kandeelon ke roop mein
Har ghar ujjwal Deepawali ki aagman

Kya yeh us bujhi hui diya
Ki koi nayi pehchaan thi?
Ya shayad koi divya prakash?
Nischay hi antaratma ki aawaz goonj uthi
Jo ab har disha mein faili
Atah, samuhik vivek ki jagruti

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71 Comments

  1. We have a long way to go. Inspite of education and exposure to liberal ideology our society remains rigid and conservative.The only change is that it succeeds in camouflaging its true face in the garb of modernity.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more, my friend! It’s terrible that these things still exist in our day & age, inspite of many other being stamped out! And to think we’ve had a woman Prime Minister way before the UK or you guys even thinking of a woman POTUS. It’s tragic and so contradictory our thinking

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      1. YOU hate that it’s a man’s world–hah, as a woman I probably hate it more than you do, hahaha!!! America thinks of itself as progressive, but the misogynists are alive and well and there’s far too many of them. I’ll stop shouting now :):) God bless you today!! 🙂

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  2. According to me, society has always been distracted or gotten busy with work and how to feed the family. Everyday mundane routine forces people to learn things which are embedded in their minds for life (beliefs, prejudices, or dogmas, whatever you prefer to name it). We have been tied down by definitions and respect for life becomes the least discussed issue. We have been forced to conform, that’s what we are taught from a young age; “respect your elders and listen to what they have to say, never question…” and “believe what’s written in the books…” well that a very lazy approach we have adopted to raise the future generation. Even in the house children are not safe from known people, so, you can imagine what’s the outside world is. Animalistic instincts could not be tamed by the so called, more ‘humane’ ideologies. We are yet to evolve and that’s the bitter truth. I think we have a lot of information stuffed in our mind but there is zero knowledge about life and it’s philosophies. (Sorry for the long comment)

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    1. Hey, no problem! Thanks for reading! More than anything, it’s males thinking they “own” the females and then dominating into perpetuity. Things have changed, I know, but so much more needs to be done…

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      1. Every action does not lead to a positive change. Like every action is not mobility. So, we have to ask the question, “Is this the change we desired?” Just ‘Change’ is not enough, if it is not a positive one. After all, we are getting caught in the rigmarole.

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    1. It’s depressing, the pace of change. And always two steps forward, one step back. To think we worship Shakti as a manifestation of the female energy. Sad, sad, sad… but many thanks for your comments, Ritu!

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      1. I have a new phone and it’s dictionary is still picking get up my regularly used words…. so I get rather a lot changing on me and I need to get into the habit if reading before pressing send!!technology huh!

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    1. Thank you, Hammad! I hope this is brought to an end in your country and mine and in fact, wherever such practices exist! Like I said earlier, we can have an Indira or Benazir lead our nations and respect them but cannot do the same for ordinary womenfolk

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  3. Yes, this news was quite painful. And your poem is beautiful and poignant and captures it well, and also that new lights will continue on with her spirit and message. Cannot silence the light. Powerful, Kunal. 🙏🏼

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  4. Hey Kunal, I’m here to check out your poem and you know that word that brings me here. I like to believe that little miracles happen everyday. I have a friend who sent me links to all the speeches around American politics and alerted me last night to the election/apppointment of the first Japanese governor. Between the two of you, I’m getting a message here😀
    Your poem is beautiful and I’m glad that you are flagging this issue. I’m also thrilled that you end with hope and your poem in itself is a spark for the collective conscience.Having played in various leadership roles as a woman, I know how important a spark can be and I also know the power of collective action.There is a place for both. Your words are inspiring to all of us. I’ve needed to calm down a bit and reflect and what I find is that while there are so many tragedies everyday, I wouldn’t be surprised if the good doesn’t surmount the bad.
    Btw – while I support gender equality and taking care against all kinds of atrocities to protect women and girls, we need men to open the door and as you said in one of your comments – men need to be in touch with their feminine side. I’m hoping to be back in the next two weeks but when you have a synchronistic thought,you’ll find me 🌹

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