Syndic No. 19 Cover
Syndic Literary Journal

Resistance by Asha Viswas

Resistance

By Asha Viswas

 I Resist

In my cousin’s house her grandmother

Moulded her as she wished.

At each turning of the wheel

Her shaping hands decided

How loud should a girl’s laughter be,

How much should her lips spread

To wear a smile on her face.

The length of her hair, the colour

Of her cheeks, the pitch of her vocal cords,

The manner of her walk were controlled

By the fire of the grandma’s frowning face.

No one dared to fail her

She could erase them with a blink of her eye.

 

I have heard my grandmother cried

At the birth of each of her grand daughters.

The cry was louder when I ,

 The fourth girl child was born .

Did she guess I would resist and break the mould ?

We Resist 

For me this was the first time When in your house,

 I heard The two of you shouting at each other.

In our father’s house it was always a one way traffic

our mother never trespassed her silent zone.

 The ravings in my sister’s house too

were the prerogative of her man .

Seeing tears in my eyes, you came

and sitting beside me , gently asked ,

“are you not happy that the woman Today

 has got her voice back ,can shout to register her views ,

can tell the man that she is a living,

Palpitating human being, not an object That she was

 in the past? Since the voice is new, the shouting is more

And is razor sharp.”

I found reason in this resistance .

 

The Great Resistance

When Salman Khan, the super star of Indian movies, was once again imprisoned for shooting a deer or two, we were old enough to understand what was right or wrong. We all argued with Mom about the laws of our country. When a man is killed in broad daylight, the murderers escape , are rarely punished. Why should our great hero be punished for killing just some animals and that too, long back. Why is he imprisoned so many times- this was beyond our rational minds.

 Mom kept quiet. She knew well enough that all the three of us were rebels and would not care for her moral teachings. And then suddenly there was no electricity and we could neither study nor play any games and it was too early to go to sleep. So we requested Mom to tell us a story and this is what she told us-

“There is a small village called Khejarli in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The name of the village is derived from the Khejri trees( Prosopis Cineraria) which were abundant in the village. These trees are considered sacred by the “Bishnoi” community that lived in this village and in the other villages of Jodhpur, Rajasthan.”

“In 1726 A.D. Maharana  Abhai  Singh of Marwar, Rajasthan granted the estate of khejarli to  Thakur Surat Singh. In September 1731, some people say the year was 1730, the date was 10th and the day was Tuesday- a black Tuesday, a royal party under the leadership of Girdhar Bhandari, a minister of the Maharaja of Marwar arrived at the village of Khejarli with the instructions of the Maharaja to fell some trees.”

“The Maharaja wanted  a new palace to be built and the Khejri trees were to be burnt to produce lime for the construction of the new palace. There was a lot of greenery in the “Bishnoi” villages inspite of their being in the middle of the “Thar” desert.This was the reason that the Maharaja had ordered his men to get the wood from the Khejri trees.”

“ A local woman , Amrita Devi Bishnoi , heard the noises outside and protested against the felling of the trees because the trees and the animals were sacred to their community. The men assured her that they would not cut the trees if she bribed them. She refused to bribe and said-“ If a tree is saved even at the cost of one’s head, it is worth it.” The axes which were brought to cut the trees, severed her head. Her three daughters- Asu , Bhagu and Ratni were also killed. The news of these foue killings spread and a meeting of 83 “Bishnoi” villages took place. It was decided that one “Bishnoi” volunteer would sacrifice his life to protect a tree. Older people came to hug the  trees and were killed.”

“Bhandari  and his men started taunting the “Bishnois” that they were sacrificing their old men as they were useless to their society. Hearing these words, young men, women and children came forward and followed the example of the old.  In total three hundred and sixty three “Bishnois”- old and young, men and women, married and unmarried, rich and poor became martyrs.”

“ Bhandari and his men left the scene in great shock and narrated the story of this massacre to the Maharaja . the Maharaja ordered that cutting of green trees and hunting of animal within the boundaries of the “Bishnoi” villages was strictly prohibited”

Mom sighed at the end of the story and told us to remember this story as the first resistance movement to save the environment. She also told us that this was not a cooked story but real history from the past of Rajasthan.

None of us could sleep after hearing this great real story of  resistance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 2018
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