Panda's First Smile

Panda's First Smile
PandaPig's First Smile!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


{Photo by Chatchai Somwat, Thailand}
NOTE: This blog post was supposed to be written on my other blog, HoneyAntDreamer but I wrote it on the Guinea Pig blog by accident because I have absolutely no idea what I am doing yet have no intention, nor the ability, to re-write it. I apologize in advance for it's content. It is DEFINITELY NOT ABOUT GUINEA PIGS.
I am being followed by an albino Bengal Tiger named Parvati...she is inside of me, waiting for me to tell a story, not about her, but about someone else, someone she loves, someone she expects me to write about.

I already wrote about her. Last Sunday the Times of India, circulation 7.5 million (I think) created a two-page spread devoted to Nirbhaya, the Daughter of India, a young nursing student who had been  brutally gang-raped and murderously assaulted on a moving bus where only her own boyfriend tried to help but he was also violently stripped and beaten, thrown out of the bus with her to die as well. No one protected her. Did I mention this took place on a moving bus? If there are errors in my writing it is because my hands are shaking. I accept that.
Nirbhaya died, her Spirit did not: it pierced and penetrated its courageous self into the Heart of a country now asking itself: why? Just as we did last December 14, following the tragic massacre of innocent young 6- and 7-year-old children, their teachers, and principal in Newtown, Connecticut, all of whom died trying to save "their children." We asked why, we prayed, we grieved, and many with whom I blog on the Times of India were so incredibly supportive during that shock...I felt likewise learning about Nirbhaya, Daughter of India, who, despite having been raped and beaten into unrecognizable human carnage, from her hospital bed in Singapore as she lay dying, had the courage to tell her mother, "I want to live."

I wrote a letter to her, a prayer, the TOI printed it as part of a full, two-page spread Sunday, alongside a stunning piece penned by my friend Arjun Bala, with comments, quotes, and illustrations created to complete an unforgettably emotional, soul-searing memorial.
Until that time, I never knew anyone really noticed my writing. A senior editor contacted me for my email address explaining they had been publishing my comments and she wanted to send me a pdf (since, obviously, we do not get The Times of India here in Bellingham, WA, U.S.A.) but even I was not expecting the gut-wrenching, emotional, soul-searing, visceral reaction those pages would have on me...

That's when Parvati came into my life  informing me that Indian literature, film, and popular culture had to begin creating role models for and of young girls, children, and women as strong, courageous, equal-to-men individuals as deserving of respect and equality in Indian culture as men. Currently, they do not enjoy that status. I was not aware until then just how little they do enjoy when it comes to the perception many boys who become men think of females.
 I can't write about that.
Nor has Parvati asked me to. She has simply been following me along on my walks narrating a novel for young teens about a Warrior Princess of India whose sage tiger teaches her that for everything that had been taken away from her following her own brutal rape and attempted murder, a Gift was also bestowed and that she survived because she had a destiny, a future where this "fictional" teen Awakens from her own personal trauma knowing she was spared to protect and serve all others less fortunate than herself: people, animals, our Planet. It's complicated yet profoundly simple. This Phoenix actually does rise from the Ashes, Nirbhaya does live in this story, saved by Parvati, the Bengal tiger, who becomes her guru, much as Krishna was to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, as Obi-Wan Kenobi was to Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars"  this archetype that lives in our collective consciousness...and appears in so much literature, film, theatre, music, dance.
It's not new.
It is, however, new to me, writing this way.

I am listening to Parvati on my walks and quiet moments but the story chases away the Quiet in its insistence that I get to work already. And I don't know how. I have never experienced anything quite like this before in my life, a muse in the form of a wise sage, Parvati, stalking me like prey threatening to leave me without a moment's peace until I pen the first words. And just start.

Now my solitary time is not spent alone anymore. Even the guinea pigs know something Big is Going On when they see me - instead of write - pull out my large drawing tablet and begin drawing the Story of India's young Warrior Princess.

Which is particularly odd given that new health issues keep me from focusing my eyes, the migraines continue relentlessly to disrupt creative and most other endeavors, and I feel like: "God, are you serious?!"

I just watched one of my favorite authors,  Turkish writer Elif Shafak, on a TED talk. She wrote "The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi" which I read a few years ago and wrote so much in that I could never loan it out: I talk back to my books, ask questions, scribble drawings, compose prayers, poetry, mainly ask questions, though...we interact, my books and I. Thank God for the printed page, may it endureth forever!

What will Parvati ask of me? I have a pretty good idea. She is asking me to do something I am one of the least equipped people in the world to do. Perhaps my job will simply be to learn a word processing program or draw a graphic novel and illustrate it myself, who knows? 

The only thing I do know, is how much I don't know. And that Parvati appears to be quite a patient, yet persistent tiger who wants to give meaning to Nirbhaya's courageous sacrifice.

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