Grace Banu. First transgender woman to become an engineer. She worked seven years as software engineer.
All this seems pretty ordinary for us. Yet when you realise how full of hurdles her path has been and continues to be, is when you appreciate her enormous feat.
She faced brutal discrimination all school life being a dalit child who was going to school unlike most other dalit children. She was not allowed to sit with the other students in the class and asked to arrive and leave earlier than other students so that she doesn't pollute them.
Then she grappled with gender dysphoria and when she confessed the same to her parents they withdrew their support. She left home to live with other trans gender women and though their help continued studies.
She earned 95% marks yet was allotted a private college for engineering. She had no government scholarship or support to study yet with help from some individual charities she continued. Became the first trans engineer and had her SRS too.
She got placed on campus because of exceptionally good performance on her interview. However the job scene was very discriminating, given her dalit queer identity. They paid her less but her work hours were more.
After persisting for 7 yrs in software engineer field, today she is Founder of Trans Rights Now collective. She teaches other trans ppl to help them achieve government jobs to prevent them from begging, dancing and sex work which they often resort to for earning their daily bread.
She raised over 10 lacs during pandemic lockdown for trans ppl and helped over 300 trans ppl and continues the good work.
She adopted her trans daughter and helped her gain seat in medical college. She fought long legal battles to include trans category in admission forms for college.
The queer scene in India has got acceptance very recently, yet I am sad to see the hegemony of upper caste trans ppl like Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi and Trinetra haldar gummaraju there. They bring in their privileged brahminism and do not allow discussion on dalit queer struggle.
According to grace Banu, reservation for trans ppl is the only way to create safe space and opportunity for them to lead a respectful life. I agree with her.
Let's remember this great lady and share her journey of grit and persistence.
BABASAHEB Dr. BR Ambedkar was independent India's First Minister of Law and Justice. He was the Chief Architect of Indian Constitution.
Today is his 130th birth anniversary. Let's pay respect to the great leader, Feminist, a double Phd holder, jurist, economist, and politician Babasaheb.
He started Buddhism movement in India. Worked laboriously for uplifting women and Dalits.
It was his hard work and dedication that women like me get several rights and protection in form of Hindu code bill he drafted and presented. He gave us through it foll. Rights:
1. Paid maternity leave to women 2. Right to women to take divorce 3. Right to women to remarry 4. Right to women to have abortion 5. Right to women to adopt children 6. Equal pay for equal work for women 7. Equal rights on property for women
Let's fully be grateful to him. He made representation of women and Dalits possible through positive reservation.
RBI was his concept and creation (but hilariously Gandhi's face appears in Indian currency notes).
Love you Babasaheb for giving me a dignified life amidst such suffocating patriarchal system.
Often times we avail special benefits on a daily basis and therefore tend to normalise the special nature of the benefits or forget the genesis of those benefits.
Many times, those benefits stem from a long and strenuous struggle by a forgotten hero. Why was such a hero forgotten? If his/her actions brought much needed relief for millions together? The reasons can be many.
I take up today the case of Sexual Harassment (prohibition, prevention and redressal) law that came out in 2013 and which benefits millions of Indian working women, me included, thankfully so.
Who was behind this much needed law? Not a eminent politician, not a judge or a lawyer or a famous activist. But a poor, illiterate, scheduled caste woman BHANWARI DEVI of Bhateri village, Rajasthan.
In 1992, she worked as a Saathin, who is a voluntary worker working with the State government, under Women Development Program. She worked to help government in eradication of social evils, like child marriage. She had to report child marriage cases to the local police so that they can take actions to stop the crime.
Once she reported the marriage of a 9 month old girl from the upper caste and politically-economically powerful Jats of the village. She had informed the police that she might face the anger of the more powerful Jats. Police took no action and as rightly pointed by Bhanwari Devi, she and her husband were socially boycotted.
While working on her field, a few days after the incident, five Jat men from that family came and started beating her husband blue and black. On protesting, Bhawari devi was brutally gang raped.
What made this another case of caste based gender violence different, was Bhanwari Devi's courage.
In those days, she came forward to report that she has been raped when talking of rapes were taboo to the extent that the rape survivor was blamed of lying and shamed for having being raped.
Yet she reported her rape. She was made to run from pillar to post to get physically examined and to get the FIR done. Yet she persisted an finally got the case made.
However, the court acquitted the culprits saying that upper caste men won't rape a lower caste women as it would make then impure.
Her appeal in the high court still is pending after more than 25 years.
She lives in the same village and still works as a saathin though socially boycotted. Yet she persists in fighting for justice.
It was her tremendous spirit that motivated the NGO Vishaka to file a PIL in Supreme Court demanding that the State Government be held accountable for the rape to Bhanwari Devi as she was employed by them. This led to the landmark Vishakha guildelines for workplace safety for women in 1997.
Which ultimately served as the base for the 2013 law for prevention/ prohibition/ redressal of Sexual harassment in workplaces for women.
All thanks to her hard work and courage, working women today, get assistance in cases of Sexual crimes at workplace even though she herself awaits justice.
Why have we forgotten her? It's obviously due to her lower caste and class status.
Let's correct our mistake by thanking her and sharing her story.
“If at all you find my story inspiring, don’t just stop there. Empowerment is not just about listening and knowing about injustice; it is also about speaking up and acting on it" - Bhanwari devi.
“Why should I leave my house for someone else’s crime? It’s the criminals who should run away. I will not go anywhere".
“The only option I have is to fight. I may not get justice, but others will.”
She says: “We will get justice. My fight today is not for me. I am old, I will die; but my fight is for the future generation — for every girl, every daughter, who wants to pursue her passion free from the shackles of patriarchy.”
Over the past years, she has been awarded by various organisations for her exceptional courage. The Delhi Commission for Women recognised her courage on March 8, 2017. In 1994, she was awarded the Neerja Bhanot Memorial Award.
Though she never got justice through the judicial system and the accused were acquitted, her case opened up a Pandora’s box of taboo topics into the public realm. Bhanwari continues to fight for the rights of every girl in her village despite the threats to her life.
She says, “I am not afraid. What more can they do? I am not alone in my fight. The justice and the case is not just about me anymore. I am fighting for a society where there is gender equality; where there is no discrimination between two siblings of a household; where both brother and sister get equal rotis and education opportunities.”
I look at you And think of how you'll appropriate my statements As just one experience Incapable of encompassing the lifetimes of the shared history of my folks. I look at you Knowing full well How you'll snub me shut For talking and keeping my points When you won't be able to match my arguments. I look at you Seeing how privileged you are To not know how terrible the conditions are for my lot. I look at you And know full well How regressive your thoughts are And how mentally infantile you are And will always be For you put no efforts to recognize your unfair share And will do nothing to hurt the status quo which benefits you I look at you Only to turn away And walk away To a place that doesn't stink of your prejudices.
A world without books, is an interesting thing to talk about. See in our present times, the book reading populace is decreasing. Most of us are glued to the screen, be it smartphones, laptops or television. Most do not read physical books per se.
There are podcasts, videos and ebooks. So a world without books means we still have got a lot of sources to get knowledge from.
Actually a world without digital writings or videos will be the one that'll sharply drag us to the pre cognitive revolution epoch.
But with no printed books around, not much would change. Of course bibliophiles like myself will cry for a few days but then we cannot cry for long and will inject our minds with podcasts and blogs for our daily dose of reading or knowledge.
Coming with the pandemic, was the epoch of e-learning and work from home. So most of the work is taken up online itself, both by the kids and adults.
So radically thinking, a world without digital presence of writing or words, that is without access to ebooks, social media, writing apps, podcasts will be the one that will be detrimental to the data processing and knowledge grasping capabilities of humans.
Just no physical books will not do much harm. Yes it's true that much digital presence is not there in rural and urban poor backgrounds but that is changing rapidly. Come to think of only ten years back and you see, that the smartphone spread was much less, data speed was lower and cost much higher. But now learning is shifting online much faster.
If books disappear, one impact could be people might be more addicted to the screens or maybe they will be more creative to let their feelings be known through lot of art and spoken poetry or storytelling. Many might read faces more!! Or talk or act or start artificial intelligence memory keeping. Record opinions on voices more.
Around 30,000 years ago, humans made hand prints on cave walls in southern France. Letting us know their presence and history. From that point to today a lot of knowledge is gathered and is effectively shared through books. As books are our agents of recording information, stories and views.
A world without books will be handicapped but not paralysed given the rise of new recording technologies.
Ah the sweet poison! This money I earn But the interest I pay Of desires that fly in my face Coming up like zombies in my dreams Where the places go stale Untouched for so long Unkempt wanderlust Turned morose And lost touches Are never revived. The contact list is shrinking rapidly And it's sustaining on intensive care Nobody to talk to Nobody to go meet The people so uninviting And ever so busy in chasing things. I am left alone Just like everyone else And alone I brood over my lost happiness Cheers and laughs Replaced by tears and graphs Graphs of wealth and career A timely suicidal marriage And token pregnancy. This suffocating submission To the worldly order Is your future too mate Thanks for giving up your today for this hell ride! What you get is a torn soul Purposeless and pale It would be better if you actually did what you wanted But you couldn't coz you were alone And it takes at least two to live.
I'm not the brightest mind Or the kindest heart But ~let's fall in love for the night And forget in the morning Play me a song that you like You can bet I'll know every line~. I might not be the bravest soul Or have the prettiest smile But ~sun in your eyes Navy blue skies You are the reason I can survive~. I might not be the most social person Or the best at the moves But ~hey you! Out there on your own Sitting naked by the phone Will you touch me? Don't help them bury the light Don't give in without a fight~. I come with an open mind And a candid heart Not niceties or fakeness But with a genuine belief in you That ~you are all I was hoping for It's you I'll call My evermore~...
~Hey you! Out there on the road Always doing what you are told Will you help me?~
Given an identity number Hoarded in a cubicle Handed a series of mundanities A life all secluded But as I had once read A person's attitude Is last of human freedoms So I let my mind wander outside In Indonesian archipelago The biggest in the world Next moment I'm high on wall street Both with Dutch legacies And I am judging what's left of the French In Puducherry As I break free from my chamber In a summer dress With my bohemian partner Our favorite songs And random chatter Will you be there too?!
//Cars are underneath us now The stars are underneath us now We walk above the city You and I
Flowers are underneath us now The towers are underneath us now We walk above the city You and I
And we are breathing more Than we ever did before
~Walk Above the City by The Paper Kites//
//Let's never Stop at Dreaming For a day where We are free ~ A Gogyohka//
//Pack yourself a toothbrush dear Pack yourself a favorite blouse Take a withdrawal slip Take all of your savings out 'Cause if we don't leave this town We might never make it out I was not born to drown Baby come on//
Everlasting wanderlust Incurable longing thirst For things outside my window Everytime I'm lying low Will it ever be possible that I'll fly Is it all too long shot to even try? That river beyond that mountain And the lovely vast paddy plain A field full of flowers beneath those stars Beyond this hustle and sans all these cars A lifetime so short to behold an eternity A viewpoint so small for my frailty I often wonder that if I truly try Will I be able to see all under this sky?
//If the sun don't shine on me today And if the subways flood and bridges break Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave Or will you rail against your dying day//
Beyond the fall Fall from ideals Ideals of truth and honesty Honesty to my genuine dreams Dreams which got crushed by reality Reality capitalised for money Money neatly bought all All our humanity and individuality Individuality bartered for fakeness Fakeness to hide diseases Diseases of mind, body and soul Soul still thirsts for freedom Freedom for a moment of it's own will Will that survives and strives to achieve Achieve true consciousness Consciousness of who I want to be Be myself Myself only. ----------------------------------------------------- Myself only Only for a while silent Silent from hunger Hunger of justifiable words Words of meaning Meaning to the mindly Mindly depth of thoughts Thoughts of salvaging humanity Humanity from our own shambles Shambles that make us stamble Stamble and mumble Mumble for words Words of hope Hope for humanity Humanity to the world World filled with love Love with peace Peace and Live Live in hope Hope and Joy
Every day brings a new kind of pain, one that overtakes the anguish of the previous, and every day the numbness is more overpowering, more unbearable.
A strange kind of feeling seeps into blood, crashes against the bones and knocks at the door of the soul. My teeth titters at the edge, my tongue recoils and sticks to the wall of my mouth and the dryness is so profound, I long to gulp the whole of the Indian Ocean.
No help arrives. No voice leaves my mouth or strikes against my eardrums. No strength left to even unfurl my eyelids.
I lay buried in myself and the earth beneath me gapes, while the sky above finds every reason to smile.
In an event less afternoon As you hear the buzzes and clicks Of the washing machine The TV blares and you come across A Whisper's Wings add You shoot your mother A questioning glance As she scurries on her dainty two feet To change the channel Softly hitting the remote As she struts and fumbles At 8 or so You would watch RAMAYANA with your grandma Where Nalakubera curses Ravana You ask what happened with Rambha Grandma replies o ekhon ekta নষ্ট মেয়ে / Damaged goods /She is now a damaged good/ You wonder how can a woman be a good But you don't force that question Upon the prying silence Unlike Ravan did You don't want to be an antagonist Of the comfort zones Of a silence The women have carried As long as they have carried their honour Their family tree's honour In their meek flowers What is a flower in comparison to a tree You wanted to ask But then you were no Ravana You wouldn't force But at the age of 10 or so When you read In a children's story book About a man carrying two pots On his shoulder The first one, round smooth and polished The second, irregular and broken One being damaged and other not And how the water seeps out of the damaged pots And nourished the roadside flowers You wonder that aren't damaged goods and women Are alike that broken pot You were 12 When you come across Bollywood scenes Closing doors Shadows beneath the clothes And hands intertwining You want to ask Ma why no one talks to that aunty Who lives next door You are 14 and on a lift When your mom stops you From striking a conversation With that aunty who no one talks to You ask her with your gazes Only to find silence Alas! You are 16 now You now know You know now Even now the TV blares And the washing machine chatters But this time when Whisper's add arrives Or the shadowy figures in queen sized beds Behind curtains And abruptly your Ma Tells you about that lady That lady on the elevator Of how she was a As a নষ্ট মেয়ে / Damaged good Grandma narrates In their times during the batwara /Partition of India/ When anthems of bloodbath were sung And countries of slaughtered bodies Arrived on trains in both sides And women who were নষ্ট মেয়ে Forcefully Were thrown into the fire Like vermilion gulal in a holy fire An uncomfortable silence settles After all the dust in the abandoned fields turn red The TV cackles and the washing machine nods In pure resignment You are 16 now The skies imitate the hostile reds That flow in rivers underneath your skin As you trudge along these fields Your leaking water bottle Feeds the roadside flowers While you and your silence mourn a little.
P.S- I wrote because I wanted to. Idk how this turned out. I have mixed feelings. P.P.S- I read all comments but won't be able to respond to every. That doesn't make you any less important or bad. I have always told everyone to focus on their top priorities and not just writing. It's time I take my own advice seriously Also it's Na Po Wri Mo. So I'll write as often as possible. Find all the poems of April in #gtnapowrimo21
Hindu mythology references:-
As per Valmiki Ramayana, when Ravana visited Swarga loka, he saw the celebrated Apsara Rambha there and was immediately gripped by lust. Unable to check his emotions, he held Rambha. Shocked by his behavior, Rambha reminded him that he is equivalent to his father-in-law as she was tied up with Nalkuber, son of Ravana’s elder brother Kuber. But blindfolded by desire, Ravana ignored all her plea and seduced her by forcing himself on her. When Nalkuber came to know about this he cursed Ravana. The curse was : “If you seduce a women without her consent hereafter, your head will be blown in 100 pieces.”