Balloon Seller

Barely five

Spunk, fifteen

and the wit, fifty

The balloons he carries

bobbing on the ends of sticks

like his head

on the pike carved by poverty

he manages to keep it upright

but they push him down

seldom bullied

but ignored

not worth the effort

lowest of the low

a mere fruit fly

in a world of leeches

craving better blood.

 

His father showed him

everything he shouldn’t be

but he became anyway

the cycle destined to repeat

forever set on a loop

the rich get richer

the rest get wearier.

 

And once more he chants

“bhaiyya, le lo na ek”

“behen, oh behen, de do na kuch”

and once more he sees

how they unsee him

and one last time

he disappears

into the river

his balloons bobbing

in the water

but his head

nowhere to be seen.

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Do We Have the Time for Privileged Feminism?

I saw the headline about Emma Watson versus the Beyhives. I read the article until I fell into that deep pit of misery and confusion mixed with a sense of disgust at humanity from which I’d just managed to extricate myself the other day. Why is the topic of feminism always served to us by women in the media and entertainment industry? Have you not felt as I have, that the only dialogues concerning feminism, at least the only ones fiercely propagated by mainstream media, come from people who have never experienced actual, down-to-earth misogyny on a daily basis because of their privileged status, who have meaty histories of playing roles or doing photo-shoots for ‘women’s’ magazines which double up as propaganda machines for making women believe that objectification is what they should aim for, who have spent most of their careers and lives masked under 6 feet of makeup so that they look like the porcelain beauties that MEN desire? Yes, Emma Watson is intelligent and ‘different’ from most bimbo actresses and I love that she thinks. But shouldn’t that be normal, instead of the exception? Isn’t the fact that she is one of the few actresses who have straight As and a college degree not to be applauded but something that should raise serious concern due to the lack of such people, because these are the women who children hear of and idealize before they ever start school and read about one or two women scientists (whose names they eventually forget anyway)? Also, this doesn’t change the fact that there are millions of women who are just as, or even more, intelligent than Emma. No, they’re not all white-skinned, not all tall with symmetric facial features and a great smile and blue eyes and perfect hair and maybe they’re not all size zeros either. But maybe they’ve contributed much more to society in ways that neither she nor Beyonce nor any woman in that industry could have. They are doctors, engineers, scientists, researchers, psychologists, professors, archaeologists, and the list goes on. They do not have a makeup team at their disposal. They do not have the luxury of a publicity team to make them seem amazing all the time. They have families and some live in very patriarchal societies where even though they work twice as hard as their husbands, they’ll never receive the kind of appreciation their husbands do. Some get beaten up all the time and do not have the freedom or means to seek justice. Some receive death threats and rape threats on a constant basis for setting up shelters for rape victims. Some get threats of the same nature for adding knowledge to sites like Wikipedia, some just for being born as women.

These women do not have the privilege to go topless or make music videos twerking about their sex lives and then debate about whether it’s an act of feminism or not. The fact that people spend time on these debates shows how oblivious the world is to actual problems, how we are so ready to turn a blind eye to actual suffering and instead focus on how the rich and famous rattle each other. Time is precious, maybe not to you but it is to little girls who get abused on a daily basis, it is precious to women who live in deeply misogynistic cultures and don’t have a way out, it is precious to single moms ostracized by their communities and to women who face the stifling of their thought everyday by society. Time is precious and we don’t have enough to waste on the privileged.