South Asian Sisters

South Asian Sisters is a diverse collective of progressive South Asian women dedicated to empowering our community to resist all forms of oppression through art, dialogue, conscious alliances, and grassroots political action. We are dedicated to organizing “Yoni ki Baat,” an annual performance that encourages women to speak out against violence and end the stigma around our bodies and our sexualities.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Birj, tujhe salaam...

Birj tujhe salam…
Birj is gone. I don’t know where. In this hustle bustle of Badwani office, I run away for a moment to write, to remember to pray, to talk to Birj, to connect.

I remember and smile.
Then I realize and weep.

Something loved you more than we did. Our silent warrior. Now silenced forever? You're living in a new space in a new form. I know it must be better than this. I hope.

I cherish the time I spent with you. I cherish the day we met- Sep 29, 2001. Dolores Park. Anti-war rally. You holding a large ASATA banner. With Anirvan. I was so happy to see other desis at the rally.

I cherish the space we shared, the thoughts we shared.
I cant believe I'll never see you again.

But I can talk to you Birj. I can feel you. I know you're here.

Your body was weak.
Your body was thin.
But your spirit was strong.
And it's still here. Always will be.

Your eyes twinkling.
Your awkward hugs.
Your silly jokes.

How different would I have been without you?

Your silent style drowned out the noise of my life.
I notice the silence now that it's gone.
The calm is gone.
Birj is gone.

My cousin in Mumbai thought your name was 'bird'.
Where did you fly away?

We kickedit 5 months ago. In amchi Mumbai. In the motherland.
Breathing the same air in the motherland.
You told me you wanted to come back to India to work for a while.
Bandra station will never look the same to me.

My life doesn't feel the same.

I haven't seen you for 5 months.
But I know that now I'm closer to you than the past 5 months. I know you're here. I know you know I care.

You're here. You came back to the motherland. You said you would come back and work here for a while just like me.

You came to Narmada.
Don’t say you didn't. I felt you there. Felt you while I was working. Wrapped me in a shield as I slept on the floor of the train compartment in the North Indian cold.

For the first time in so long, I feel alone. I'm surrounded by people who don’t know you, never knew you, never will. Never knew how beautiful your life was. They don’t know how I feel. I show them your photos. The beautiful photo of you and Saron. They try to understand, they want to, but they cant. They ask me what happened, I say I don’t know.

I really don’t. I don’t understand it. For the first time in so long, I find myself wishing I was back in the US, among everyone else who knew you. I'm so far away, cant come to the funeral, cant contribute any photos, nothing, except this random collection of just my thoughts. I wanna hug everyone else who knew you and feel the pain together. I don’t know what to feel anymore.

I'm always in the midst of confusion here in the Narmada Valley. Today 1000 people descended on Delhi to brave the cold and challenge the government. I didn't have a minute to think about anything else. Except you. I wanted to write this many days ago- on Dec 31st morning when I found out through a phone call from Yamini and Saron. I wanted to write, but couldn't coz I was always surrounded by confusion of mass action.

I'm forced to show my private emotions in a public space, I cry when I feel like crying. People stare, but they don’t really care. People don’t have time for my tears. I don’t have time for my tears…but they don’t stop. What can I do?

Birj, come talk to me. I don’t know where you are, but you know where I am.

Thanx for sharing your life with me.

I remember and smile.
Then I realize and weep.

Birjender Anant. Hats off to a beautiful life. Tussi Great!

Birj tujhe salam…

Ek sathi ki maut. Achanak. (The death of a friend, suddenly)
Aur phir reh jati hai yadein. (And then what is left is memories)

Birj tere sapno ko, manzil tak pahuchaenge. (Birj, we will continue to fight to realise your dreams)
(Slogan from the Narmada Valley about comrades who have passed)

Zindabad, sathi, zindabad.

from the Narmada Valley, the motherland…