Acta non verba (Actions not words)

I boarded the bus with my physically disabled brother and anticipated a vacant seat. Unfortunately, the bus was occupied by two-footed privileged souls who refused to give up their seat to accommodate God’s shortcomings. That day, I promised myself that no matter how far ahead my legs take me in life, If they dare to outrun kindness then I’ll stab the apathy out of them with spiky shoes.

My grandmother gave me a can of pepper spray which lies in the side pocket of my bag. She taught me about women who knew how to be safe. Last night, when a man groped me in the grocery store while pretending to reach for an apple, my anger was quoted as a teenage rage while his insolence had the pleasure of being a mistake. I wish she taught me that caution wasn’t as much of a burden as speaking up was.

I thought that getting my hair dyed burgundy would fundamentally change me as a person. However, that is similar to thinking that planting a tree in your backyard can solve the climate crisis. Or banning an instigating religious movie can put an end to bigotry. I tell my therapist to stop dismissing my issues and she says that she’s only reducing them. I tell her that my problems aren’t growing but merely that I am shrinking. She tells me to stop using fancy words for situations I can’t handle.

I seldom write out of helplessness. Grief- sometimes, frustration- yes, but helplessness- never. Helplessness is a sign of ultimate chaos and I refuse to let it take over. How long are the pulses to be cooked for? How long should I listen when a guy screams at me without catching a breath? How much is the appropriate amount of tolerance and when is it enough? I do not make decisions anymore. I think about what mum would do and follow through. When mum’s not home and I’m supposed to make a decision, I call up mum to pass her verdict. I’ve written way too much of change for there is too much I dislike but what I fail to highlight is how most of it is related to me.

I’ve been told that we struggle with change/to change because our speech is more potent than our actions. At 16, you are molten rage and the inhumanity around you compels you to question yourself. The world doesn’t start devolving at 20 either. There are too many who need to be saved. And as a savior you cannot discriminate between the victims. At 27, you are as condensed as the hate around. You’re equally the sufferer and the perpetrator. You talk, declare and deliver but is your anger enough? Or are you a part of the equationyou’re trying to solve?


Radhika Tandon




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