This is something I picked up from my father: “Yeah, it’s true. But it’s been said before. This piece has nothing new to say.”
He says that and I nod. I think: he’s right. All these women are saying the same exact thing in the same exact manner with the same exact words. It loses its impact, doesn’t it?
I’ve been audience to a lot of literature spewed out by angry, tired women every day on social media, in newspapers, in magazines, on any platform that comes their way; and until recently, I always finished listening, shook my head and said, “Yeah sure, but it’s been said before.”
But recently I’ve discovered this rage, and this rage has found itself in my belly and it’s growing exponentially. Every time I have a conversation about gender equality, about women and their safety, when people question or even sometimes dare accuse the woman’s actions, this rage roars and expands inside me. I have been nursing this rage for so long that it’s begun to drain me. Now when these conversations start, I straighten my back and clear my throat because this is a conversation I want, it’s an argument worth having, but whenever I begin to explain myself, shocked by the fact that I have to explain myself in the first place, I feel miserably and inexplicably exhausted.
It’s a good thing that all women are saying the same thing. It means they are composing a chant, a battle cry.
A journey of self-discovery
I wrote this piece for an anthology sometime ago and I read it to my parents. My mum high-fived me, while my dad was silent. When I was done, my mum told me she really liked it and my dad stayed quiet. I was quiet too, waiting for him to speak, and he finally did. He said, “Yeah, it’s true. But it’s been said before. This piece has nothing new to say.” And I nodded. I thought: he’s right.
But this time I kept thinking, and what my thoughts finally settled on were these two words: “So what?”
So what if it’s been said before? So what if my idea, my thought process, my paragraphs, my first word and my last word are exactly the same as a hundred thousand other women? So what?
Because you know what else is exactly the same? This desperate, tired fury inside us that’s been boiling our blood for so long that we have to bite down on our tongues to stop ourselves from screaming.
And so what if it’s been said before that women need to shout to be heard because no one listens otherwise? Because in spite of pointing out over and over again that we’re screaming and still ignored, the majority out there says, “Yeah, but it’s been said before.” And still doesn’t listen.
The saddest thing in the world is a woman who runs out of words, because words are a woman’s greatest weapon. Sadder still is the fact that women are nearing the end of their vocabulary, because there are only so many ways to say, “I’m tired of being scared”.
Driving home the point
So I’m going to abandon synonyms. I’m going to stop finding new ways of saying the same, old, worn out, threadbare thing. I’ve decided I don’t care anymore. It’s a good thing that all these women are saying the same thing. It means they’re speaking the same language and they’re composing a chant, a battle cry. One that needs to be repeated by everyone. For that to happen, everyone needs to know the words. So we need to make sure that everyone’s saying the same thing.
I’m going to repeat myself and what every other woman has said till I’m out of breath, and when I am, I’ll repeat it in writing until my fingers cramp, and when they do, I’ll start shouting it out again and I won’t complain about this vicious cycle. I’ll say the same thing until everyone has memorised it, until descriptions of fear of rape come to the mind as easily as one’s last name, until women feel the need to stop saying the same, nothing-new, lost-its-impact thing.
Until then, I’m okay with being an indistinguishable part of a chaotic parade of angry tears, raised voices, tight fists of frustration and thin patience. If you need me, I’ll be outside, shouting.
Nineteen-year-old Rabia Kapoor is an opinionated young poet and writer from Mumbai, who is also known for her spoken word performances.
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