A coworker came to me today and showed me an article in Jan 2010 GQ (the Indian edition) entitled “The Horror” by Ed Caesar. He brought the magazine over to my desk because there was one section in particular he wanted me to read. It goes:
Her name was Masika, and she had made it her life’s work to care for femmes violées and their babies. She was a poor woman, and I asked her why she did it. Masika said she had been raped several times herself. Once, in 1994, she watched soldiers murder her husband, cut him into bits “like a butcher” and throw his limbs around the room. Then, she was asked to rearrange him, as if he were a puzzle, before she was told to lie on her dead husband while the soldiers took turns raping her. After that assault, they asked her if she was hungry, and forced her to eat her dead husband’s penis.
“The reason I help these women,” she said, “is because I know about the pain.”
After reading that, I could feel hatred for men well up inside me and in disgust I felt compelled to read the rest of the article. I advised my male coworkers not to be surprised if they felt the burn of my wrath filled eyes after reading the article, I told them to protect their vitals, I told them to consider themselves warmed. I said, “Know this, I won’t hate you my anger will be directed at your entire gender.” So I settled to read on how men continue to ruin women, to abduct young girls, how men loot and pillage, and how the root of evil is settled in their loins. But the bulk of the piece wasn’t so much about the rape of women as it is about the rape of a nation. It talks about the conflict in Congo and the state that the potentially fruitful country is conflicted with.
I’ll be honest, my knowledge of the turmoil in the continent of Africa is limited and I am ashamed that I’m not as updated on the suffering of fellow humans as I should be… and so in my limited basket of facts, as I was reading about the corruption, about the foreign aid, and about the war that the world turns away from, I found a shadow of my very own Nepal.
Nepal too suffers from war and chaos, Nepal too is corrupt to the blood and marrow, Nepal too continues to exploit her own people and Nepal too is finding it difficult to find a way out.
In a few comments I’ve had people complain that I complain (which is probably why I have a “she complains” category) but in truth, I don’t value complaints (mine or others) and if anything, I am often consumed by trying to come up with solutions (but if I can’t or unless I do, I write and think out loud on here)… anyways, point being, I won’t pretend I have a solution for Nepal and I couldn’t even fabricate a way out for Congo and in my despair, I am left feeling oddly optimistic.
My sister is wise in so many ways and lately she’s been bringing up how fortunate we are in Nepal. There are countries that fare far worse, (please don’t misunderstand that as me taking pleasure in the pain of others or as me saying “Thank goodness that happened to someone else and not me” because I do believe the next sad thing to a battle lost is a battle won,) and in light of the article and in light of not too far neighbors like Afghanistan, Nepal is still somehow limping on.
Although there is much sadness embedded in the lives of fellow Nepalis (Utsav recently brought a sad statistic to my attention ), the flip side is I can leave my house without fear of being raped – something the women of Congo aren’t privilege to, I can walk the streets looking somewhat fashionable – something the burkha clad women of Afghanistan can’t fathom, and I am free to work, to hang out with friends, to date, and professional and personally – I can write.
So then there, in a few words… without even having to put too much thought into it, though Nepal is far from paradise – we are comparatively still incredibly fortunate. Maybe for a change Nepal and all of her citizens should take a moment to count our blessings – it’s definitely not an answer, but it’s a change in perspective and there is some respite in that.