In the wake of the December 2012, New Delhi gang rape, confrontation and protest has surrounded topics involving the safety and treatment of women in South Asian communities.
Toronto based musician and spoken-word artist, Anuj Rastogi, reflects on such topics in a new piece, titled "Amanat's Reprise".
Rastogi describes the piece, saying, "It's a spoken word / music composition inspired, sadly, by the terrible Delhi gang rape incident, and the countless other such incidents that have surfaced before and after."
The strong words of the piece are accompanied by ambient tones and echos, with chimes of sporadic piano and cries of children. It captures your full attention and forces you to reflect on the issues at hand.
"India's finally been forced to reflect again on some very rotten parts of society and social mindsets,"
"I hope that this finally marks a turning point for the perception and treatment of women in South Asian societies," says Rastogi. "We should've woken up a long time ago to change things, but it's never too late."
Anuj Rastogi is an active collaborator and founder of independent music label, Omnesia Records. His music and art take on different styles, from folk to hip-hop, and from classical to experimental. He recently completed background scores and title songs for films "Under The Same Sun", and "Surkhaab", each due to release in 2013. He is currently working on a number of new projects including a new solo studio album, collaborative studio releases, film scores, a multi-producer compilation, remixes and music for video gaming among others.
Check out the lyrics to Anuj's spoken-word below!
Tonight, as I tuck her into her crib for the night
I stare down at her, under the waning moonlight
As on all other such evenings, I kiss her goodnight and wish away any fright
That she may feel while asleep, or awake
With all my might_ I wish I could make it all go away
Every crime, every curse,
Every danger, every hearse
That carries away the bodies of souls departed
Or in tonight's case, the soul of a country that needs to be restarted
A country, raped by a mother's own sons, brothers, and fathers
A country that has failed every one of its daughters
Tonight is the first night that I've wondered, maybe even wished,
What Mother India could've been had her sons instead been drowned in a dish
Had families cursed their misfortune for having a boy
And looked in envy at their neighbors unbridled joy
Celebrating their good fortune for having a daughter;
Perhaps our sons should've been lead away to slaughter,
One-by-one before they should plunder, or chance an act of such moral blunder.
For centuries Mother India has been MOTHER INDIA,
And like Jocasta, violated by Oedipus every fort night,
Raping his own mother, cloaked in the illusion of non-existent virtue
Dear sons, why am I left feeling I must now curse you?
A land that venerates the Goddess, dresses her scantily and then
Insists she be modest
A land that elevates women to positions of political status
Lies naked and wounded, questioning her chastice
This land rides on her back to procreate and drive economic progress
And then questions her character should she dare to step out in a dress
This land so fertile for its women, lies morally barren of more than a few men who value what is within.
Rape is an act of imposed power
But it is not simply caused when a beast deflowers
It is one spoke, but one extension
Of a social ill that few dare to mention.
In our dowries, in our words
We do nothing but seek to curb
The spirit of the truly free woman
WE ARE the problem
Men rape women.
Women rape women.
Mother's In-Law rape women
Protectors of law rape women.
Politicians rape women.
Film makers rape women.
Ancient Traditions rape women.
Modern police stations rape women.
Silence rapes women.
Speaking out rapes women.
Apathy rapes women.
You and me rape women.
Every minute, of every day
Somewhere in this ancient country,
Be it physical or parliamentary
A woman is raped -- her spiritual dignity, once draped
In self-respect has through decades of social neglect
Been left to wither and rot, in plain sight
This is NOT the country of my moral parents
This is not the planet I want for my children
This is NOT the world I want my daughter to grow up in.
And so here I sit, 3000 miles away
Proud to be brown, but ashamed to be a man.
I am a man. A father. A son.
How do I tomorrow face my little one.
And tell her the monsters of the dark were once little boys,
Whose mothers and fathers bred a society armed with penile toys.
And when one woman dared to speak, she was shut down, or drowned in the noise,
Of a society that values its life-giving daughters less than its public poise?
As I lie here, my little girl asleep in her crib.
I am in anguish, she sleeps still, I'm torn right next to her.
When she asks me about India, What will I tell her?
Will it still be my heart's home, full of history and culture
Or will it be truly overrun by soul-less vultures?
Perhaps this fire that burns,
Sustained and relentless, is what Amanat's sacrifice has earned
Perhaps tonight is like every other night before it;
And every woman in Delhi will walk in fear from her brothers, the police and the state.
Or perhaps tonight is the night that we turn the tables on fate.
And embrace our shared anger, and our common hate
For the ills of our world, and the suffering of our girls.
Perhaps, tonight is THE night that through Amanat's plight, WE can awake.