The Valley Lies Silent Again

Yet again, irrational, regressive, fanatical fundamentalists have smothered free voices in the name of religion and propriety. (Link to related news)

Yet again, in our great country, women are being dictated their "limits", created in the name of God by men who want nothing more than to justify their misogyny.

Yet again, a religious diktat has been issued, not against rapists and tormentors of men, women and children, or thieves and murderers and plunderers of common wealth - but against three girls who wanted to sing.

Yet again, a man who holds the power to influence thoughts decided to give up all responsibility, and turned back the clock to the Dark Ages.

God gave the gift of music to us. And no one has the right to take that gift away. Mufti Bashiruddin is not God. In fact. he is as far away from being God as the girls are from going to hell for singing.

Disillusioned as I am, I wonder - When will the time come when a girl can make music, and not choke on her own songs? 

Shots echoed in the Valley
Harsh, staccato notes
Hung in the air
Long after they left the gun
For they did not leave 
the scared hearts, fluttering
Of the birds of the Valley

For a while there was silence
An uneasy peace
A welcome release
From numbing pain
And deafening fear
And the birds 
began to hope again.

Time went by
The world moved on
The sky was open for flight again
Slowly, but surely
the silence became serene
And the birds in the Valley
Thought they could sing their songs

But they had not accounted
For the black crows
With their raucous cawing
Loudly preaching
Wanted or unwanted
An assumed authority
On morals and propriety 

A band of young she-birds began to chirp
Hesitatingly at first, a trill here and there
When the other birds gathered 
To listen to their crystal voices
The songbirds' music
Released new notes
Into the mountain air

The notes had barely risen
When the pack of crows descended
on them, croaking and clawing
Accusing and intimidating
Passing judgement without cause
Branding them heretics
And calling for punishment

"How dare you raise your voice
How did you think of music, girl?
It sways the minds of the birds
That WE OWN
That WE CONTROL
That WE COMMAND
That WE DEFINE"

"No voices shall be heard
But those that issue from our throats
No beats shall be created
Unless it's the claps we call for
No tunes shall ever be sung
That we don't make you dance to."
The head of the pack demanded.

Other crows joined in the lynching
"Yes, yes, how dare you, woman?"
They shrieked self-righteously
A few big birds tried to open their beaks
But soon they withdrew and flew
Back to the golden cage
The crows did provide with their strength.

The songbirds crouched together in fear
As predatory warnings
Threatened to rob them of body
But not before ripping their soul
One by one the songbirds
Withdrew into the gloom
Pragaash* no more.

And the days turned silent again
The nights darker than before
Fear tightens its icy grip
On the birds of the Valley once more
No chirping or clucking or cooing
Only harsh squawking and shrieking
Of the black crows that rule the Valley.




* Note: Pragaash, meaning "Darkness to Light", was the name of the Kashmiri all-girl rock band.


27 comments:

  1. this is shocking! wasn't aware of this. gone through the news. disgusted! don't know what to say.

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    1. Shameful though this incident is, at least now, when such things happen, we have started raising our voices in protest. We need to keep shouting louder before we will be heard.

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  2. It was paining to see girls in anguish yesterday in CNN IBN with their faces covered

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    1. They're just kids, and the kind of threats they've been receiving are brutal and shocking in nature. Naturally they are frightened for their safety.

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  3. its really sad that even after so many years ,,dese things hav nt changed :( !!! a very well portrayed poetry depicting a women's plight !!!

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  4. wonderful write Meenakshi! BTW I really admire the role Mr. Omar Abdulla has chosen to play here, we always cry about political ill will. But this time CM himself has decided to come out open and clean in support of this band girls. I hope it goes a long way to pave a safe tomorrow for these girls and all of us.

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    1. For once, a politician has risen up in support of the girls rather than make excuses. However, it is important for him to follow it up with affirmative action, which I haven't seen or heard of yet. Let's hope for the best!

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  5. A very moving post. "WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN".

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  6. Mufti also said that all the “bad things happening in the Indian society are because of music.”

    He needs help. He is sick.


    P.S. - Published the post on Subh Dasgupta's Blog for VOICES FOR DAMINI campaign. Please have a look at it and let us know if you're okay with it.

    http://subhabratadasgupta.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/the-valley-lies-silent-again-by-meenakshi-ganesh/

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    Replies
    1. Sure thing. Glad you published it on the VFD blog.

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  7. when I heard the news I didn't know how to react ! great post ... sad but thats how it is ..

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    Replies
    1. It is sad and shameful. We all need to change, every one of us.

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  8. Its a sad thing, you are a very good writer

    You have just won Liebster award. To know more go to the following page http://day-to-daystories.blogspot.in/2013/02/liebster-award.html :)

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    Replies
    1. Wowiez!! Thank you so much Renu! This is quite an honour :)

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  9. Superb....N wishing u a very happy news years too....Thank you for that lovely comment on my blog...: ).....mind of a mortal...

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  10. A powerful composition, mixi. But, the fate of Pragaash is honesty tragic...shameful...and disgusting!

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    1. It is tragic indeed, especially in this day and age.

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  11. Freedoms have always been hard fought for. A terrible tragedy throughout history.

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    Replies
    1. Very true, Anthony. And we are still fighting for true freedom here.

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  12. Very powerful, Mixi. Got my heart racing. I feel India is not the only one where men are dominating. Only that India has always somehow given men the freedom to dominate. Talk about abuse of power. Ah. Very poignant write.

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    1. Gender inequality is a problem everywhere, some places more than others. While we rage about injustice in India, most Middle-eastern countries have it worse than us. While that only makes me feel worse knowing there are even more downtrodden women in the world, it gives me more impetus to keep writing and stay vocal about this issue.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Chhavi!

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  13. what a world. powerful story.

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    Replies
    1. At least we have it better here than some middle-eastern countries.

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  14. This poem is gripping - especially after reading the corresponding news story. Sad to have happened. Your poem captures it well.

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  15. shocking poem for a shocking situation, great write

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    Replies
    1. It is indeed unbelievable that this is still happening in this day and age.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

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