It all started off with a supposed published writer (hooray!) Going off on a rant about how anyone can sing and make money while writers suffer in silence and abject poverty because they are unappreciated. Fortunately for me, I have very little published to boast as a writer so I’m good with being a rambler. That needled me though, since I have a problem with halo forging angels of light who use people as footstools to get a better view of greener pastures they cannot reach but can cry foul about. But I controlled myself.
Then there are the other good souls, picking up local bakery and often, surreptitiously procuring our vices like cigarettes and duma, sourced from friends and acquaintances moonlighting as suppliers. So there’s a lesson for me here, be nice to everyone. Spread your friendship net far and wide. You never know who could arrange that last packet of Gold Flake for you.
It was in 2006 when I awoke to misogyny in the Khasi community. It happened rather innocuously. I was seated in one of the lawns of the North Eastern Hill University, Shillong Campus when a group of male scholars stationed themselves next to me. Because I was quiet and unassuming back then, this group of men did not notice my presence. A conversation ensued in which I was the fortunate (or unfortunate) eavesdropper.
“For my part,” one of the men began. “If a woman were to offer me sex, I would go ahead and enjoy the ride. But where marriage is concerned te, I will opt for a virgin.”
“That’s true,” another one agreed.
The Proposed amendment clearly seeks to excommunicate and ostracise a Khasi woman who marries a non Khasi and her children, in contravention to our customary practices, Human Rights law and our Constitution. The bill is being justified on grounds of protecting the Khasis against economic exploitation and land alienation, but this was done without proper and diligent research and the proposed amendment will not in any way resolve what is sought to be projected as being the crisis in Khasi society. In fact legislations such as the land Transfer Act and The Benami Act already exist to protect and curb economic exploitation and land alienation. These need to be strictly implemented in letter and spirit. Further there is an urgent need to bring a Land Ceiling Act such that rampant land alienation leading to landlessness especially rural landlessness is immediately checked. Given the serious nature of the lapses and violations to the many constitutional provisions and our customary practices we sincerely urge you to withhold assent to this problematic amendment bill.
When she took an afternoon nap,
she was tigerish: “You sons of a vagina!” she
would snarl, “you won’t even let me rest for a moment,
sons of a fiend! Come here sons of a beast! If I
get you I’ll lame you! I’ll maim you! …Sons
of a louse! You feed on the flesh that breeds you!
Make a noise again when I sleep and I’ll thrash you
till you howl like a dog! You irresponsible nitwits!
how will I play the numbers If I don’t get a good dream?
How will I feed you, sons of a lowbred?
This is a coffin of a dead 7 year old girl who was raped and killed by her uncle, and whose body was strategically buried by the man inside a church compound. No, this is not a village in North India or any other place in which public and private life is popularly designated as “violently patriarchal.” This is the Khasi Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, often hitting national and international headlines for fake and catchy narratives like “women’s empowerment ” and “gender equality.”
I am afraid for my life:
My vessel of existence,
Is a vessel of my negation?
Only aspect of this work that depicts matriliny and what it does to girls lies in the context behind the pictures. Without that background, this is, sad to say, a blatant exhibitionism of the girls of the village, culminating in a series that doesn’t quite capture the empowered status of these girls but antithetically subjugates them to the desired outcome of the viewer who in this case is Karolin Klüppel.