Another deep and yet not deep enough day in the news. Keep reading for today’s Hip Hop based commentary on the New York Times headlines by Political Poet Naxal. That’s me. I flips the news like you never seen. Almost on the Daily. Enjoy.
July 9-10, 2007
today’s front page commentary takes an in-depth look at the major headlines of me and my lovely, complex, desi family.
its late at night, a jet black humidity hangs just outside the windows of these stuffy wood floor rooms. i just sang a bunch with my family, mother, father, mausi (in hindi that means aunti and more specifically, mother’s sister). it may not mean much to the next person, but to me its news.
shit, they’re still singing up in the front room. the one the front door opens up to. the room with the tv, the framed pictures, the white and baby blue couch set, and a party favor multicolored swing thing that reads: welcome home. my mom had put it up there the time i moved back home as an adult. i was here for two months. its two years later and its still up on the wall, cradling a garnesh statue hung above it. my mom is cool like that, ain’t too proud to recognize a good ass home decorative come-up when she sees one.
im so glad my aunti is here. one of the first of my parents combined 15 brothers and sisters to set foot on u.s. soil. goodie mausi aka shail. in indian homes everyone got their official name and their home name aka ghar ka naam aka family nickname. the home names tend to be ultra-affectionate, sweet and warm, and beautiful like birds call to say. goodie, tinki, baby, sweetu, peehu, gucchu, gooda-these are some of the home names of my relatives in india. why didn’t i get no nickname? shit, i didn’t even get a middle name. people always look suspicious when i tell them my relatively short first and last name. like, no not your americanized name, your whole name. i hate it when motherfuckers wanna de-colonize me. it makes me want to give them a thapar aka slap across their sweet cheeks. but shit, i probably do that shit too, all over eager to help urge the movement along.
it is major headline, front page news that i just had a cypha with the fam and i sang my brown heart out. first, i gotta tell you about my homeboy birjinder anant. RIP. his wide eyed, calm, slim, bearded face came up all big like on the huge screen of the auditorium hall in atlanta’s civic center. there he was, peering around some butcher paper strewn table in one of the slide shows before a plenary at the united states social forum.
birjinder and i worked together at a south bay INS location to document the names of south asian and arab men who were walking into forced registration forced resignation forced deportation and alls we could do was take down their names before they went in and hope we could check their names off after they came back out. if the men who looked like our fathers, grandfathers, big and little brothers didn’t come out, we took note and notified south asian, arab, and persian attorneys who then broke the news to the men’s anxiously awaiting families. thankfully, we didn’t have to do all that, not that day.
i liked birj, mainly cause he was a well-informed and suitably inflamed activist dude who listened more than he spoke, rode his bike a lot, was a proud sikh, and christened all with what he wrote at these poetry events for south asians he helped organize called load shedding. birjinder committed suicide shortly after returning from the wto protests in hong kong.
if you google his name, one of the first things to come up is a post called: who killed birjinder anant? i had that question too for a bit. because no one from his family wanted to talk about the truth, that birj committed suicide. so do i respect their silence? or do i respect his truth? i guess a bit of both. that’s the best i can do right now.
lately ive been telling my truth in honor of those people who have taken their own lives rather than breathe life and voice into their own stories. cause suicide is real, in the south asian community, and in all communities. shot out to the strong sister who spoke on this issue in our cultural community at a united states social forum workshop called desis rising: maps, flows, and strategy session for south asian activists in america. because she was brave enough to do what needs done: truth telling and letting go. this goes out to you too.
here’s why its news that i sang my brown heart out with my mother, father, and mausi in the room. why its news that i sang at all. this one is for all of you angels, and especially for you birj. but you already knew that.
Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse in the Family
how the reasons birthed and learned to fly in to fill in the blanks i can barely stand to learn how it could happen, why it could happened. land mine memories glint in the sand. explode to fill in the blanks with reasons.
reasons. she’s american, talks like them, walks like them, born here and all, so its different for her. american girls like it, these girls here are always thinking sex, sex, sex. maybe look indian, but she is definitely american. listen to her talk, how she walks, doesn’t even cover up when she dresses for the outside. american girls like it. reasons, reasons fly in to fill in the blanks.
i find my father pausing when I speak to him in hindi, and I myself pause before I speak to him in hindi. because wrapping my tongue and lips around hindi feels different, sensual, and I am always aware of not wanting to do anything that could turn him on. he pauses everytime I speak hindi, utterly surprised. because it makes me more human to him he forgets every day that I speak and understand his mother tongue. his mother tongue. my mother tongue. was forked. it split in two ways. I call her ma.
my mom wasn’t told much about her culture either. maybe it was only the men in her Brahmin family that got to love learning more than the requisite songs or science that got a woman married well. caste like class varies within families. so maybe she was treated like a dalit girl by brahmin family and had to pick over her brothers leftovers. like I did. leftover stories, leftover instruments, leftover cultural cues. even though she was born and raised in india, she gets on google just like me to find the specific meaning of holi. but she does know every bhajan in the world. and as long as youre not her daughter, she’d be willing to teach you god’s songs too. but i’m almost thirty and she’s just started to teach me. to sing.
i loved to sing ever since i could remember. had a solo in my school choir in the seventh grade. but then things changed, and in the front of the television i found the depths and breadth of hiding places available to a young, bright, creative, abused, thick, third world teenager in a suburban u.s. armed forces base town. i stopped singing. shit, i pretty much stopped moving. i’ve started singing again, now, 15 years later. but for a while, you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to sing one goddamn note.
if I sang it woulda start a turf war in my family. singing was my moms turf. like fucking my father was supposed to be her turf. and when he began raping and molesting me, it must have seemed to my mother that I had started a turf war. that I was trying to get her man. some mind mangled way to help her understand the logic-less generations under colonization fucked off plan. reasons. reasons fly to fill in the blanks.
my mom has been jealous of me in an unnatural way. palpable sometimes so thick in the air its nauseous, cut myself gross. my dad loves it when she sings. and singing is her turf. so I was keeping my singing under wraps. and at least in that way, I was being a good daughter. but today i sang my brown heart out, closed my eyes to his at times too obvious stare and tried and tried to focus instead on the strong feminine glare of the women and the inner child of him around me. my mom ain’t been jealous in that gross way in a minute. now it seems to take all her energy just to stay awake. these days, even at friends houses, she nods off to sleep. i wanna shake her. tell her to wake up. start fresh. start over, its not too late. but don’t sleep like this, body so close, but soul so far away. didn’t she hear when i was bumpin mob deep and they were talking about: don’t sleep cause sleep is the cousin of death. i wish my mom woulda paid more attention. cause maybe then she’d still be awake.
lesson from the mahabarath: white horses thunder a steady gallop. the great beasts shoulder a golden chariot, running it across the epic tale of a land planted with rows and rows of soldiers. wind whips time through the tendrils of their manes. two sides, imminent battle. brother versus brother. the catalyst, a warrior amongst warriors named arjun. arjun on the chariot turns towards krishna, chin trembling, eyes bouncing in time to the beat of the horses.
hey krishna. do you understand? either way, I face unbearable lose. either way. no matter who wins, we all lose.
krishn was beautific in his compassionate state eyes lay low lashes curled out to meet the blue sky, lips turn dark with truth’s passion.
hey Arjun. I understand. and, no, there is no understanding. all you can do is do what you must. proceed in battle and don’t give up on life.
that’s why its news that I sang with my family tonight, had a cypha going like what, on the vocals, the tablas, the harmonium and we was all jammin. looking my father, mother, mausi in the eyes and singing with all my brown heart. even though, even though. and that, my friends, is news. its not only possible to heal, its super duper dopalicious possible. i know of what i speak… its happened to me.
Stay tuned for more of All The News That’s Fit to Flip by political poet, NaXaL.