To me personally, I prefer to refer to her as 'Bharati' (Indian) . She represents each and every one of us Indians, women in particular, who have just discovered that their worst nightmare (for themselves, their mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters) has just manifested into a terrifying reality.
My religion teaches me to revere the female form, literally on a pedestal. She is Saraswathy, The goddess of knowledge, without whom creation is impossible, She is Shri Devi (goddess of wealth) & Bhoo Devi -- Mother Earth , crucial to sustaining & preserving life, in the form of food & riches, and she represents Shakti , Power, which manifests itself in various forms from the gentle Gauri ( a mother who has the power to shape a human being), Durga, the gorgeous warrior woman who can beat the crap out of any creep, all the way to the terrifying Kali, who bays for ( and drinks) the blood of evil doers (of the 'XY' chromosomal kind).
Even as the 'Kali' inside me mind begins to entertain unholy gory painful thought process of retribution for the horrible experience, this innocent angel went through ( Anesthetic drugs are specifically banned from these scenarios), there is a furious Durga that is moving beyond Gauri , just hugging my children, and trying to figure out how such a tragic event never ever happens to any woman, in India or the world. For we must face the realization that there are similar gory events that go unnoticed all over the world. Just as the winter solstice marks the beginning of brigther days ahead,its time for women to change the prevalent culture and mindset to slowly dig ourselves out of the abyss we've allowed ourselves to sink into. It will take a generation or two, but let this be the dawn of a new era (Maybe there is something to the Mayan calendar after all).
- We, as women, need to start with drum it into our sons that women are precious jewels to be treasured & respected, even if it means that 20 years later, as mothers-in-law, we have to gracefully yield to the incoming lady of the house.
- Let us teach our daughters to be politely forceful in ensuring their rights, so that they will never kow tow & bow their heads (in the name of respect, tradition and culture) to a tyrannical older woman. For this only ensures that the daughters may breed that same toxic thought process to take control later. At the same time inculcate a sense of empathy so that they may have compassion towards their spouses parents.
- If we can successfully eradicate Polio by going door to door, surely we can educate the women about their rights. The Hindu texts prescribe a four pronged approach when dealing with an opponent (which in this case is the chauvinistic patriarchal mindset) its called 'Sama Dana Bheda Danda' (conciliation, bribe, divisiveness and punishment). Although I'm sure these manipulative methods are embedded in the minds of the politicians, There should be a way to use this to bring about a cultural change especially with the help of social media. It will take time but eventually there should be a stigma attached to be even remotely associated a criminal who crosses the line with women, instead of the stigma being attached to the victim.
One of the last coherent statements Bharati made to her mother was that she wanted to live. Even though that has become a moot point, Let us all conspire to fulfill that last wish. For we owe it to ourselves, our maternal mitochondrial lineage , and to our children to make sure that her death is not in vain. It is said that 'The Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world' Let us start by rocking it right!
Rest in Peace, Dear Angel.
I had planned to pay a tribute to a dish from Eastern India with Alu poshto, I'll simply refer you to my friends blog Bong Mom's Cookbook, a treasure trove of classic Bengali recipes. I ended up omitting several steps in the original recipe thanks to my lack of focus but the end result was still mouth watering & delicious. The differences, I used Panch phoron, instead of Cumin in the tempering and out of sheer necessity had to make do with black poppy seeds for the 'Poshto' paste.
Alu Poshto - A recipe for Poppy seed spiced potatoes by Bong Mom's Cookbook