Rape of the Gitanjali

Rape of the Gitanjali



Chitto jetha bhayashunyo (where the mind is without fear) was the first line that Rabindranath Tagore wrote in his 35th poem of the Gitanjali that carried his vision for our great country.  He read this out in the English version, (then titled Indian Prayer) at the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta in 1917.


Today, Tagore would be weeping inconsolably.


Where the mind is without fear


The gang-rape incident in Delhi has left women in India shrouded in a sense of hopelessness. Helplessness.


I am a woman and I am scared. I know there are many more women out there who feel the same.


If I am late at work, I am apprehensive about hailing a taxi or an auto.  Should I take this bus? Who are these other passengers? Are they men of morality or beasts in sheep’s skin? Should I walk down this lane? Who are these men standing at the corner of the road?


Are our daughters safe? Should we impose curfew time on our children?


When my child is delayed returning home, how should I console my heart and mind?  My heart beats in panic and my mouth runs dry…while my mind conjures up unwanted images. I do not want to tell my child to suspect everyone around. But, I am scared. How do I protect my child?


Earlier, I thought our daughters were safe if they were with friends. Today, I am not sure at all.


I cannot stop thinking about Nirbhaya’s mother.  The dreams she wove around her beautiful daughter – the apple of her eye.  She would have watched with glistening eyes her daughter grow into a beautiful young woman.    She would have whispered words of wisdom to her adolescent daughter, to gently caution her against the growing up pains of womanhood.  I am sure the growing up pains about which she forewarned her child did not definitely include the brutal invasion of her young, fragile body by six beasts.  The beasts mutilated her daughter’s body that she had so lovingly nurtured for 23 years. She had mildly warned her daughter of the perils of womanhood.  But, this?


Does Nirbhaya’s mother sleep? What is she thinking? Does she have questions? Will she find the answers?


Now on, will any mother tell her child, “live without fear”, “walk with your head held high”, “square your shoulders”?


Every mother will want to hold her child close to her bosom, away from the eyes of the world.  Because, who knows what is lurking along the path that her dainty feet walk on.


Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection


Can mothers breathe easy when their little princesses go down to play in the garden? What if deathly tentacles stretch out from behind the rose bushes towards their angels?


Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit


Can the dignity of a woman flourish in a society where self-proclaimed religious gurus propagate warped reasoning? Where so called leaders rape women in their minds? Where blasphemous tongues whiplash womanhood?


All this is happening in a nation that supposedly laments the dwindling population of women.


Into that abysmal hell, my Father, my country has awoken.



Posted on January 16, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Despite the worst, fear is not the reaction I expected from a brave girl like you.

    • I tried to deny it, Joe, but the truth prevails. I believe that fear is a valid emotion. But I do know that I should not let fear paralyse me and my life.

  2. so where did India begin to go wrong? I watch grow men and women on the streets using their cars and bikes like truant delinquent kids – courtesy, scruples, honesty, righteousness have been replaced by rampant greed, corruption, lawlessness – and the repressed Indian male (of whom there is legion) is now a beast unchained. Is this a lack of upbringing? The last 20 years of so there’s a complete erosion of all the upright, noble values that make us human – i can understand you fear Lata; why even i am wary of being out on deserted Pune streets an nights, lest i be mugged, stabbed or even shot – it’s known to happen.

  3. My dear Lata and Sudheer,

    This is how I see the problem :- We, as citizens or as women, feel fear on the roads at night, etc, while the perpetrators of crime feel no fear — of the law. This is not a problem of upbringing; it is a collapse of democracy and the rule of law.

    Peace and love,
    – Joe.

  4. A very well expressed Irony! It is indeed shocking, the bestial lengths these peopel go to! We the Indians harp our trumpet about Culture and traditions, and yet none of the indian cities figures in the list of safest places to live in. My sister was in Zurich and she was all praise for the Civic life there which made her feel safe to travel even in the wee hours! Despite their Gay parades and Mardi Gras, It is a place where a person’s (be it man or woman) dignity is respected. Hollow praise for our traditions and culture do not ameliorate the dark reality of our lives! Can we setp out of the illusionary womb of our culture and embrace the best of civic values in this world?

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