The Power of Poetry in a World Gone Wrong

Exposing romance, rape and suppression in 21st century India

Blog Gauri

IT is not often that a modern author or poet is compared to English metaphysical classicists John Donne or Lord Byron… but this is one such occasion.

And it is even rarer for the new writer that English is her second language.

But a 23 year-old Indian woman is making her publishing debut with an incredible story of romance set in a society where women are degraded and abused daily.

With her first novel Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs, Saumyata Bisht has joined Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai and Anita Nair as a new and powerful voice for women in the Indian subcontinent.

Although written as a novel – a vehicle to protect the identities of people she knows – Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs is a gripping insight into a world rarely seen in the West.

At times the book reads like a brilliant work of romance, and in places is poetic in a form that Donne, Shelley or Byron would recognise. Above all else it is a tale of purity, love and romance in a world gone wrong… almost Blakean in its beauty as an innocent young girl is corrupted by men into a world of experience.

And somehow, through the use of her own poetry, Saumyata taps into a vein that is at once beautiful but also searching for the truth about the world she lives in.

How would the cedar have its fragrance?

The pines their cones?

The marigold its orange?

The goddess Kasar her purity?

The River Kosi its depth?

How would winds blow?

The kafal ripen?

The Harela bring harvest?

How would the birds sing?

The leopard leap?

The Himalayas be at rest?

What would the world be without you?

What would I be without you?

How would the sun shine?

How would the night prevail?

Without your smile,

Without your eyes,

Without your being?

(Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs, Chapter 3)

 

Blog Saumyata 3

 

Saumyata Bisht: a passion to tell a true story

 

Saumyata is the daughter of a college principal and a native Hindi speaker, but since early childhood taught herself English and immersed herself in English literature, while slowly observing the suppression and abuse of fellow Indian women.

She sees herself as a writer, a poet and a storyteller rather than a campaigner or activist for emancipation.

Yet it is deep indignation at the society in which she was raised, which ignites her storytelling passion.

“There’s no denying that we still are grappled in the webs of patriarchy,” she says.

“Women are still expected to follow a certain path and protect her ‘sacredness’.

“Most girls are uneducated and even falling in love with a man from a different caste is considered a sin, for which punishment is severe.”

“The beauty of life, the purity of love, the rawness of nature and subtle nuances in the human character warms my spirit and moves my pen to capture them,” explains Saumyata.

We just breathe, until someone takes the breath away.

Our hearts just beat, until someone makes it jump.

Our blood is just thick water, until someone runs the warmth of love within it.

Until then we are just flesh and blood, dragging ourselves through the years… because everyone does.

But suddenly meanings change, the world is a different place and you are a new person with dreams on your back and you live your life running to catch them.

Suddenly everything is so beautiful.

The sun has more orange and yellow, the winds are softer and the sky is telling stories that you have never heard before.

Suddenly, god has left a piece of heaven for us to see.

(Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs, Chapter 2)

 

But Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs is much more than just a poetic romantic novel.

The love, romance and beauty is splintered with abuse, rape and degradation, murder, pregnancy and childbirth, in a style that is impossible to ignore and hard to put down.

And it exposes the ongoing power of the Hindu caste system, which keeps the poor in poverty while the rich remain all powerful.

It explores in depth the enforced sanctity of virginity before marriage (so-called being ‘Sacred’) and then the absolute desolation of a woman’s sacredness by rape and violation – often by a husband, uncles and friends of the husband. And women who become untouchable if they fall in love with a man from a lower caste

Everyone was everywhere

Moving

I was there

He was there

Still

Everyone was everywhere

Talking

I was there

He was there

Silent

I saw him

He saw me

I blinked

And everyone

And everywhere

Meant nothing

I looked into his eyes

He looked into mine

Seconds

Minutes

Hours

I was there

He was there

Lost

And everyone who was everywhere

Knew nothing

(Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs, Chapter 4)

 

“Many girls from rural areas are married early,” explains Saumyata.

“Many more are beaten by their husbands and his family. Rapes happen, but are silenced. Only the brutal ones find some light, but most rapes are never even mentioned.

Call your gods

Run your hands

On the beads

Place a curse

Mother

He hasn’t gone

Raise your hands

Tighten your fist

Take your swords out

Father

He hasn’t gone

 Flesh

Is tearing

Blood

Is draining

Murders

Are happening

Inside me

Liberate my spirit

Place a curse

Bring the swords out

Take Him away

(Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs, Chapter 8)

The book’s poetic Magnum Opus is a piece entitled Call Me Sacred, I am a Woman. A poem of sheer brilliance… but you will have to buy the book to read it.

“Wishes that are crumpled, the voices that are silenced, they stir an indignation in me and provoke me to write,” says Saumyata.

“Sometimes my poetry is in the pity… other times in the anger.

“I just want to speak for the silent, shout for them with my words.

Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs is certainly a life and death work, and given a chance this story may well begin to enlighten millions of people around the world.

  • Gauri: A Sin Between My Legs is set for worldwide publication on Amazon on 10th January… watch this space for more information.

 

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