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Shau (noun: body/burn)


I am a mind, a mouth and a stretch of skin, with bones broken and bent underneath it. But I am also a halt in a billion-year evolution, a ball of change just at the start of a roll. And I am ash some moments away from effect. I am many things at this moment and in the very next one, will be more. ‘I’ live in a body that has been bruised, beaten and over-worked and yet it heals itself quietly as ‘I’ sleep every night. My person is the body of my thoughts, riddled with infuriating flaws too. And despite it all, it is magnificent and I have come to know it and also that it has to exist in a world that does not see it for its resilience and its grace but picks at it for money and codes that time has outlived. My body was born into a war that will last longer than I will live. There will always be someone picking, prodding and dissecting it, for the power it holds and for all that it represents.

I step out of my house every day, carrying the weight of a thousand gargoyle eyes that I have collected over the years. These are eyes that have questioned the cut of my sleeves and the dip of my neckline, prophesized molestation, followed my route, violated my space and feasted on my fear. I carry the carcass of claws that have touched me wrong-a tremendous weight on my neck. This is a weight that threatens to metastasize into balls of physical pain. It is weight, I realize, that will slowly bend my back into sickness with a name.

A human body is a strange, great thing to possess. It is a universe of chaos and meanings. But to live as a human is to live in reduced versions of oneself, moment to moment. A stranger is never more than two things at once and lesser things are easier to hate. Of all things one may be reduced to, the worst would be to a body waiting to be defiled for the gratification of another’s. Following how an animal’s meat nourishes another, hollow vessels feed on others. Magnificent, gentle humans are wrecked and chastised by grotesque ones that could never fathom or be beauty-bodies that never knew a kind touch or felt tender love. They burn in a mutated cage of a body; bubbling with frenetic craving for all that they were denied.

Hands are ruthless, they axe-down laboriously assembled hives with no remorse, they rip open hot wombs of beating, wet flesh and burn screaming faces. Demented hands grab and batter some bodies. Only some. As if mine curates a special type of suffering for me and yours, another. We were formless, shapeless and whole once. Now, as smaller legions fragment into even smaller ones, there are just as many fragments of identities that one body carries: each one inviting its own quota of violence. Sex, gender, caste and religion, even something as trivial as the gradient of colour in the skin and the number of folds on your eye-lid, is a marker. And in this puzzle of identities, a war of colossal dimensions against bodies builds. It’s a wonder what all a sack of flesh can endure. And even more surprising, is how it levies the same pain on others like an infernal flesh puppet.

In my mother tongue, Dimasa, a body is called ‘Shau’ which also means ‘to burn’. Perhaps whoever created language, found that to have a body and life is to continually burn. And true enough, all bodies burn. I burn. Sometimes, the dead masquerade as people. Sometimes, death seeps in and festers secretly. It chokes action, empathy and will. And so, sometimes, like jhum is set ablaze to birth new vegetation come dry winters, the dead bits must be burnt to ash and "once those flames begin to dance their caustic dance, don’t you dare to look the other way. Watch closely and let that image seer itself forever on your mind."(Cristen Rodgers).

Don’t shy away from burning. Let it rage against indolence and let it burn bright.


About the author:

Dejna is a 22 y/o anthropology student. She is someone who is as terrified as she is awed by society. She often manically fusses about what is becoming of the world and she associates people with their zodiac signs too much for her own good, thinks she is at the verge of a break-through or something.


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