*This poem serves as a rhythmic reflection on the film Water, by Deepha Mehta. It is an exquisitely beautiful, searing, and painful film with rays of light intermingling, light in the form of resistance, of laughter despite, of a will to fight, and a courage unknown until the action is taken. I recommend its viewing, but I in the end could not sleep until I had written these words to put into motion what occurred in my heart and mind as I watched. While it is a piece out of historical time past, practices remain nonetheless, quieted perhaps at times though they are, illegal yet active too. Thy Kingdom come…

He left me when I was 8, the old man

Went the way of death

And so I too am now half dead

Excluded and secluded away

Not allowed to touch, breathe, even cast my shadow on another

Lest they become half dead as I, unclean and sinful

But I am half alive too

And where to go with the heart that lies dormant but beating within me

My body is still a ripe field, full of seeds of life

Yet because of his death I am fallow

My mind still sees and asks questions and wants to know

Yet because of his death I am amputated from my thoughts

My hands and feet would cook, clean, run to market and to my sister’s for tea

Yet because of his death I am no more than a discarded skin

I am half dead

Wrapped in white with shaved head, do not touch

I am half dead

Sent away and marked out so that all may know, do not come near

I am half dead

Separated from my childhood, do not give me sweets they will remind me

I am half dead

Desirous of claiming that which in me is also half alive

Yet my source of death is also my salvation

Only he, man, can invite me back into life’s graces

Only his courage or his cowardice decides

I am on the altar of power and patriarchy

I am subject to the holy texts he interprets

I am dead or alive as it suits his economic gain

I am secluded or seen as it serves his political agenda

His choice is my life or death