Thoughts As They Come: A Humbling

So, usually I plan out my blog posts, and edit and schedule things…but damn, I feel so completely overwhelmed right now that if I don’t get this out of my system I may crack. Ergo, the following ramble (which is something I don’t usually do).

Fuck fuck fuck fuck. I have lists of lists of to-do lists and the whole “24 hour day” thing just isn’t cutting it. I thought about how I have to stifle laughter when I’m asked the “What do you do?” for a living question…and then I thought of all the possible titles I could check-off:

chief operations officer
small business owner
graphic designer
administrative assistant
executive vice president
sister to my boss
creative director

And each of these is true to some extent. Most of my actual income is the part-time secretary stint, but my future income is based on the crackhead investment of stupid amounts of time and energy and love and money into The Business. And the point of that investment is to make enough money to sell out to get more money to invest in just making art, all the time, in some form or another.

And I’d like to do that while traveling all over the world.

But right now: my apartment is a disaster area, my dog is whining, my head is throbbing, I’m looking at a projected cash flow spreadsheet that’s telling me rent is going to be an “issue” again this month, my (home) office hasn’t yet recovered from the Avalanche of July 2008, and there is almost literally nothing in my fridge or cupboards so I’ve been eating brownie mix because I haven’t had time or money to go to the market.

However, I took a break from “technoverload” this evening for an hour. Usually when I do this, the “break” is actually a nap, which really is my way of “hiding” since I do not drink or use drugs to “escape”. This time I did the NYT crossword, which was satisfying because I’m actually getting good at these puppies. But then…

I picked up an old issue of Vice magazine and read about the Gulabi Gang of Indian women in pink saris.

The following quotations from the article, “A Flux of Pink Indians” by Sanjit Das, are my reminder that this life is beautiful and pink is the color of life.

“We aim to empower women, promote child education with an emphasis on girls, and stop corruption and domestic violence…First we go to the politce and request that they do something. But since the administration is against the poor people of our country, we often end up taking matters into our own hands. We first speak to the husband who is beating his wife. If he doesn’t understand then we ask his wife to join us while we beat him with lathis. Our missions have a 100 percent success rate.” –Sampat Pal Devi, the commander of the Gulabi Gang

“I have no money, and I rely on my son to bring home something every evening so we can cook our daily meal…I joined the gang six months ago and since then I feel self-confident and much stronger…When I joined the gang, Sampat Devi gave us an introduction to what the motives of the gang were and we were trained in lathi combat. The basic concept of the fight is more to defend than to attack. We are not a violent lot, but if you challenge us, we are vicious. We use peaceful means first but if things don’t work, we resort to a lathi fight. Being in the gang has changed my life. I plan to stay here till I die.” –Banhari Devi

“We have no hierarchy in our gang. We are all treated as equals and we work toward a common goal of removing corruption from the roots of society and bringing justice to women…My husband abandoned me for a better life with another woman, but I don’t care. I have my own life and I am happy with it…People have to understand that a gang doesn’t have to be made up of the antisocial elements that accompany many other so-called gangs. Ours is a team–a team of women in pink.” –Bhagwati Devi

“During the day, I go from one house to another to raise awareness of child education for girls. Since I am an elderly woman and moreover a Gulabi Gang member, people pay attention to what I have to say. My family is very proud of me. My grandchildren accompany me sometimes, and it makes me proud that they are witnessing a change that I am trying to bring about in my village.” –Chandania Devi

“I am a dalit, a part of the untouchable caste, which is like a curse in this life. I hope I won’t be one in my next life…The upper caste exploits us and pays us whatever they feel like. I considered it my fate until Sampat Devi came and educated us about our rights…Not only is it a curse to be a dalit but it is just as difficult being a woman. We women are always on the receiving end when it comes to exploitation. We are married off at an early age and are told that it’s our fate to be with a man we have never met before. Our husbands exploit us all the time and treat us as their slaves. This needs to change, and the Gulabi Gang has achieved a lot here toward that.” –Punia Devi

“We intercepted two trucks laden with Below Poverty Line-designated food grains on their way to the open market. The police and the local administration intimidated us, but we stood like a rock.” –Bijrania

“I am educated, and I can make a difference. I come from a poor dalit background and I don’t have enough money. I work as an agricultural laborer in the fields, and whatever I save, I try and use for bus fare to raise awareness in neighboring villages. I always wear my pink sari and carry my lathi with me.” –Savitri Devi

“My father, Chnadra Bhan, is an educated man. He has a double Masters from the university despite being a dalit. He has always had to fight for his rights and the dignity of the local villagers. About six months back, an upper-caste man raped a local dalit woman. Police refused to register the case. When my father protested, he and two others were taken into custody. That same day I joined the gang and, led by Sampat Devi, we stormed the police station demanding the release of my father and other villagers. The police still refused to register the case against the rapist. We ended up beating a policeman black-and-blue with lathis. I cannot take injustice lying down.” –Aarti Devi

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2 Responses to “Thoughts As They Come: A Humbling”

  1. amy.leblanc Says:

    i read that Vice Mag article a while back ago as well as was really moved, and, yes, also humbled.

    i make a lot of lists; i rarely cross anything off. the lists just get longer, and i start making lists of things to make lists of.

    and for some people, eating brownie mix for lunch would be a dream come true.

    “i should be depressed – my life’s a mess, but i’m having a good time….” -p.simon

  2. Jack H. Says:

    The Gulabi Gang is inspiring, and inspiration has been in short supply for me lately. This is awesome.

    And I hope The Business becomes a thriving success. You deserve it!

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