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It’s Not Us, It’s Them…..

We don’t cause rape. Rapists do.
It’s not the short skirt, the alcohol, or flirty behaviour.
It’s not going alone to the loo.
It’s not the red lipstick,
We just didn’t ask for it.

All this is just nonsense.
An obscene pretense.
What will you use next?
‘She was breathing, so we raped her!’
As if that’s a justification.
Oh, but you don’t need one,
Being a girl, that alone is a provocation.

Oh no, it’s not a one in a million case.
It is every girl, even a baby in diapers and lace.
She had just opened her eyes, and taken a look at our world,
She didn’t know about those dangers that she lured.
Her eyes, ever so trusting, not even afraid.
Her lips,they couldn’t carry the lipstick.
She couldn’t have flirted, when she couldn’t even speak.
Is it the innocence, in every excited shriek?

Not saying no, isn’t saying yes.
Our consent doesn’t stem from the way we dress.
‘She is a slut’, is not an answer.
It does not give you the right to destroy her.

Even marital rape is not ‘fine’.
Nothing can be used as an excuse,
Not even that marriage certificate with her sign.
You don’t own her body.
That is the bottom line.

Lastly, it is not normal.
She shouldn’t be ‘prepared’ for this,
It is not some kind of a routine ritual.
Anything other than consensual, it is rape.
It is not frustration looking for an escape.
It is a crime.
It doesn’t matter if it is the first, or the fiftieth time.

Don’t let anyone tell you,
‘It happens. He was angry.’,
‘Enjoy, it’s a party.’
And never that,
‘Get used to it. You are a lady.’

Your screams were silenced, but you haven’t lost your voice,
Your hands were tied, but your wings are still there,
Your spirit, it belongs to you,
They can’t subdue you, unless you let them.
You will always have a choice.

So brave girl, always remember,
You are a fighter.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, is a liar.

This fight is not over until you surrender.
Don’t let them tame your fire,
Don’t let them snuff out that flame,
You can be, whatever your heart desires.
Never let anyone tell you that you are damaged,
You are the one who survived the carnage.

-Anika Johri.

















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BLACK.

Injustices of the past and present weigh us down,
Does it matter whether we are black, white or brown?
When in pain, we scream.
For a better world, we all dream.
We all bleed red.
Then tell me, why does a black man lie dead?

The fairest men can be demons,
Those as dark as night can be pure.
Before judging them by the shade of their skin,
Have you ever asked what lies within?

Today, a man is dead.
Cold.
His heart, stopped.
His screams, silenced.
His breath, stolen.
And his tears, still not black.

For that one man, and the countless before him,
Humanity should burn.
We should pay the price for the ones who have been spurned.

Maybe someday, all humans will be equal.
Maybe someday, compassion will be integral.
Maybe someday, being different will not be a crime.
Mankind waits for such a time.

But today, a fair murderer lives and a black man has died.
The difference is,
The colour of their hides.

-Anika Johri

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Mirror

She peers into me, long and hard,
She screams,’why?’
Answers that I cannot give,
Why does she need my approval to live?
She reaches for her makeup bag,
A practiced routine.
It’s the only way she can live up to the tag.

She hurls her brush at me,
And I shatter to the ground.
Oh, the eyeliner isn’t on fleek,
The skirt doesn’t hug her hips,
Or the lipstick doesn’t sit right on her lips.
She dabs on the shaded concealer,
To hide the true shade of her skin,
I can’t tell her, that being herself is not a sin.

It was very sudden,
‘Enough! I can’t bear this anymore.’,
She cried out, and sobs wracked her frame,
I was the mum witness,
I couldn’t reach out, as the screams came.
She picked up the blade and in a moment of absolute clarity,
We both knew that cosmetics couldn’t fix the scars that words made.

I watched her, powerless, as the first drop fell,
Nobody had paid heed to the warning bells,
I couldn’t stop her as she took her life,
The telltale crimson stained the tiles.

Her silhouette blurred as she fell to the floor,
Her frail heart just couldn’t take it anymore.
In me, she had found solace,
She saw truth in my lies,
I am not alive, but she was beautiful in my eyes.
I just couldn’t tell her so, and it’s my fault that she died…..

Misconceptions and deceit, are all that I am made up of,
There isn’t a grain of truth in me as I invade your thoughts,
The husk will always have a defect,
So how can you peer into me and think that you are imperfect?
I don’t reflect your reality,
I can’t tell you who you are.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to start a war….

They just took her away,
If I could, I would have begged her to stay,
I am crucified by the weight of my lies,
But instead of her, I get to see another day.
As the pulse flutters in her neck,
I wish that I was the one who lay dead.
Believe me, I tried to wipe her tears,
To tell her that there was more to her beneath the layers,
I just wish, that before branding herself as imperfect,
She had questioned,
Can a mirror really reflect?

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The Price They Paid…..

How can you judge everyone so fast?
How are you so sure that first impressions last?
You didn’t ever know them, but did you even try?
Or make an effort to find out why they cry?
The girl who you pushed down the stairs,
And laughed about the clothes she wears,
Cries herself to sleep every night
Her insecurities the only things in sight
That boy who you beat up for not giving u his homework,
Is the only son of an ordinary clerk,
He works day and night to make ends meet,
And rarely has two square meals to eat

That pale boy who you laughed at for being parentless,
Once upon a time like his sorrows , even his smiles were limitless.
But his parents passed away in an accident
He was shaken up by this incident
It’s been a while
But try as hard as he may , he could never regain his merry smile
You don’t know the stories behind their sadness or the sadness behind their stories
Neither do yoyknow the reason behind their worries,
But still you gave them this harassment.
Why? What did they do to deserve this treatment?
You mocked them.
You condemned them.
For mistakes that they never even made,
For your darkness, the price was what they paid.
You clipped their wings,
You deprived them of the joy life brings.
They have lost their faith in humanity
After facing this harsh reality
What would you do if you were in their place?
If these were the challenges that you had to face?
Would you have lasted as long as they did?
Or would you already have quit?

These answers will remain a mystery,
You won’t ever have to bear their misery,
Because all the sadistic grins and shoves finally made them crack,
They spend each day anticipating your next attack…….


    
Quill

STAINED

Oh, so let me get this straight.
She is stained if she bleeds once a month,
But not when she is ripped apart, trying to give birth?
Does a body part determine her worth?

She is stained as a survivor of sexual assault,
But as a rapist, you are not?
And if she unknowingly converses with men like you, she is of the wrong sort.

She is stained if she is pregnant with her rapist’s baby,
But why is the tag reserved only for the lady?
When she tells people that the father is unnamed,
Shouldn’t he be the one who is stained?

She is stained if her pants show a red patch,
But not when she wears a little red dress,
And is considered a ‘catch’?

Changing the views of a country that took ages to make,
It just won’t be a piece of cake.
Even after all this progress, if these notions remain……
Is it possible, that it’s not our girls, but our society, that is stained?

Quill

An Apology

So today, I am sorry. I am sorry that even today, after all this ‘progress’, I am scared. I am scared, that when I hug my male relatives, they will interpret it in a way that would leave me somewhere, mangled and torn. I am afraid, when I stand in an elevator with two unknown men. Everyday, when I leave the house, with all the safety that there can be, I am still terrified. This is the level of fear that has been ingrained in me and every other girl in our country. And most of all, everyday there is this fear, somewhere, deep in my bones that there is no limit to all the tortures that another 16 year old girl may be enduring somewhere. When I sit in my father’s arms at night, I feel guilty. Guilty that another girl might be caged in the prison of her rapist’s arms, slowly dying every second. Today, when pictures of Dr. Priyanka Reddy’s charred body flash on my phone, I give up. I don’t have the strength to tell my father that he worries too much, when he tells me to be alert and call him when I get to class. I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to be another daughter whose honour India failed to uphold. I don’t want to be that girl whose body is found in a sack in a street trashcan, and whose pictures are splashed across the media. I don’t want my sister to know that I am scared, and I don’t want my parents to tell the world that I died fighting.
To Jyoti Singh, I can’t be fearless. To Dr. Priyanka Reddy, I can’t burn for my country to rise from the ashes.
To all my sisters, whose voices haven’t been heard, I am sorry. I am sorry that I am alive, and you are gone. I am sorry, that today, I think that being a rape survivor is a better fate than dying.
I am sorry that I want to live.