Yesterday I first learned her name and saw her picture.  She was smiling with warm brown eyes and long dark hair.  She looked petite, young and sweet.  I was glad to learn her name. I was glad to see her picture.  I was glad to get to know her a tiny bit in this way.

Although I never knew her, along with many others, I felt enormous grief when I had heard the story of what was done to her, of what became her murder.  My horror grew with each detail revealed. A horrific attack on one small female by six monsters – for who could call them men?  A young woman maimed, torn, raped and left for dead.

How do we survive these violations against spirit, against body and against life?  When will we love others, our home the earth in a way that is truly respectful?   When will we live in a new world?

And yet, a world in grief stood up against this act. Why? Because we know what happened was as wrong as anything could ever be.  Because we know woman are beautiful, life is beautiful and all deserve to be treated with love.  Still, we are left with enormous grief – grief so big that we do not know what to do with it – and our own trauma – the trauma of powerlessness, the trauma of being a witness to horror.

How do we heal our grief? How do we mend ourselves?  How do we recover?

It was only when I started to imagine her healing that I was able to tolerate the grief I felt.  It was only then that I could somehow be with this event and be in my life without feeling broken myself.

I imagine her delicate flesh ripped apart, abused, ruined and bloodied.  Metal against flesh, crimson red spilled, later the darkening of gangrene, spreading like ink sinking into paper. I imagine her pain.  I imagine her pure and innocent, barely an adult, stepped on and destroyed.  Her body like all of our bodies, tender, fragile, easily trespassed. I want all of us to notice the tender texture of the flesh of the purple and yellow pansy, of the lily bud, of the rose.  I want all of us to notice the delicate and soft beauty of our skin, our eyes.  Our bodies deserve love, whether human, animal, plant, the body of our earth.

I imagine her as a tiny baby, new and fresh, loved and held. Delicate fingers with their little finger nails – how we all start, precious and perfect.  The happiness of her parents as they looked into her eyes, as they witnessed and engaged with her first smile.  The years they spent nurturing her, caring for her. Her family will ache forever for their loss of this part of themselves.

I wish to take my hands and smooth down her hair, make her comfortable.  I wish to heal her wounds, her broken flesh and erase the horror she lived though. I wish to erase her pain, her disappointment, the knowing that she would not live to see her dreams realized.  The career she would not have. The people she would not help. The lives she would not touch.  The family and friends she would never see again. The husband and children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews she would never know.

I wish that she is out of pain and harms way. I wish the she is in a place of beauty, love and light. May she be surrounded by love that feels like a thousand soft flower petals, caressing her spirit, healing the hatred and horror she had to endure. May her spirit, the spirit that came through her warm brown eyes feel safe and free.

I wish that from the vantage point of wherever she is that she can see that her life mattered, that she was precious and that even her death has illuminated many.  I wish that she know that what she went through is helping change the consciousness of others.

I wish that she could have lived in a world where all are treated with love, with respect, with reverence.  I wish that she could have been safe.  I wish this for everyone.

How does one destroy beauty – the beauty of our bodies, the beauty of our spirits?  How can one be so blind, so lost, so depraved?  Who are these men who do not protect what is young, vulnerable and beautiful – who hate women, hate life itself? Who are these men with small hard dark hearts of stone?  Who are these men who stomp out beauty, who blame the innocent for their own vileness?  You are disgusting.

Then there are those who say she deserved it, that she is responsible, that womankind is dirty, that she asked for it. You are the small minded and filthy ones. You are lost, you who cannot see straight, for where there is beauty, you see ugliness, and you blame.

And who are we as a species that we’ve tolerated these people who cannot honor others? Why have we not put an end to this yet?

We are done with you. We are done with excuses. We are done with your sickness.  We are done with your crooked thinking and your making of rules and structures that do not serve our spirits. Your darkness will not be tolerated. No longer will you get away with treating life without love. Run, for you are on the way out. The tide is turning.  You will be pummeled by the new consciousness. You will be cut by the teeth of our outrage. You will be washed away.  You are obsolete.

I expect to walk through this world safe, honored, loved. I have this right.  I demand it, not just for me, but also for all.

I am glad I can feel. I am glad for those of us who choose to feel our outrage, our grief, and our despair.  I am glad we can feel horror and pain. I am glad this event injured me.  Who would we be if it did not?  Who would we be if we lived in our heads, among old broken ideas, rationalizing, justifying, blaming, and devaluing?

When I was younger, I did not believe in the death penalty.  I remember disagreeing with my father and telling him that anybody could be rehabilitated – it was just a matter of time and effort, energy and love.  I no longer believe that. I was young and naïve and I did not want to believe that there were those so ruined that there was no hope. I did not wish to believe in evil.

I wish it were not so.  I wish each of us carried only love in our hearts. I wish the world’s beauty were celebrated and any acts that sullied her were removed. Jyoti Singh Pandey spoke for all of us. Her body is also our body.  Her pain is ours.  Her body is the body of the earth.  Our female bodies are like our mother earth; we feed and nurture others.  Like mother earth, it is the bounty of our bodies that allows life to continue, and the bounty of our love that allows others to grow.  We are to be celebrated, not scorned.  We are to be honored and cherished.  Perhaps Jyoti did not die in vain. Perhaps her suffering was not for naught. Perhaps she is a light showing us the path.

3 replies
  1. karen rosner
    karen rosner says:

    This is one of the most important essays you have written, I am completely taken by it’s poetry, truth and visceral effect, thank you, please consider publishing all of your essays in a book, not an ebook, a real book to hold and cherish…

  2. Ashutosha Kumara
    Ashutosha Kumara says:

    Dear Jennifer, you have written in very good spirit and I feel very satisfied after having read your great and genuinely thought-provoking essay which goes like a lovely poetry and captivating ode.
    I,an Indian living in India,have been hurt deeply by this terrible incident of Jyoti Singh Pandey.All over the net, since Dec16th, I have been earnestly recommending throwing into raging fire of these 6 rapists/murderers, and thereafter also punishing violently the national leaders and administrators of my nation because the national daughter met her grievous fate owing to the criminal negligence and corrupt practices of these leaders and administrators who are the sordid bane of Indian democracy.The illegally plying bus with tinted glass windows and curtains,in which rape/murder was committed, passed several times through police check-posts and was not stopped at all!!!
    You have been very warm and affectionate in your references to Jyoti’s memory throughout your great poetic discussion. I will ask my mom also to read your writings and I know she will admire it very much.She is 72 years old but very active.
    I agree with you every word, Jennifer, that people should carry love in their hearts to make this world a better place to live in. But, the canon of law and order should also be so relentless and unforgiving against such savages that no one dare do such things to any girl.
    I have read all about Jyoti on the internet and very well know she was a very studious and intelligent girl and, more than that,of great help to her family and society in general.She was very brave also and fought off the 6 bastards for as long she could.
    Many times I have wondered what life is all about and whether it is really important to know!A sickening rat-race or a cursed decay of this world?

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