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A Call for Justice: Anita Nahal's Words and Images are Like Magnet
|by Malashri Lal|
What’s Wrong With us Kaliwomen?
True to its rhetorical title What’s wrong with us Kali women?, Anita Nahal’s book challenges all stereotypes of womanhood. The goddess Kali, dark, naked, powerful, affirmative destroyer of evil aggression is the presiding figure of the new feminism that Nahal envisages, one that is impatient with platitudes and angry about delays in the delivery of social justice. The context is global though Kali is invoked, because she is transposed as a metaphor for female energy that enters the cause of all the marginalised people whether women, men, transgender, children, coloured, disabled, victims of violence, trampled by patriarchy. The words and images are like magnet. It’s a large sweep, yet the passion of the voice in the sharp vignettes of poetry gathers those harshly cast aside and urges them to rise with confidence in a collective march for justice.
Living in the USA and having worked closely with people of colour, Nahal slides easily from newsroom history to the pages of anguished poetry. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” Eric Garner said, and this turns into an elegy for the racially brutalized: “Being accused/ Bring lynched. Burned. Chocked. Raped. Extinguished. How easy is it for a black life to be taken.” Class, gender and colour are leitmotifs in Nahal’s poetry—she perceives the markers everywhere despite wearing “Prada tailored suits”, being “the resilient Indian woman”, and seeking the “Tree of Souls”. This volume of poems is a search for the roots of this anguish, the colour based discrimination being the political and social one and its gendered contextualizing taking the narrative to a much deeper level.
First published in The Statesman on October 23, 2021
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