I am a feminist in pieces…

by Smita Shashank Pendharkar, wunrn, 21.02.2020. I am a Feminist In Pieces. With a thousand grains of life scattered over
three continents, I have no real home nor a sense of real belonging. The voices
around me often say that I am living in three diasporas, breathing-in three
cultures, communicating in three distinct idioms. I often feel less like a
citizen of the world, and more like a nomad of the imaginary, traversing a
terrain and incessant borders that exist only for me. With roots that barely
grip the earth I stand on and a voice that seldom resonates with the souls
around me, I am a walking contradiction belonging to no particular world, to no
particular continental womb.

I am a Feminist in pieces. Born of a Black mother miles and miles away.
Birthed of a culture that celebrates color, rhythm, and unity, I am weaved into
a brilliant quilt of reds, blacks, golds and greens. I have stood with my fist
clenched in revolution against police brutality, for “taking back the night”
and towards building a stronger nation, but in the end I have always stood
alone at the crossroads of this deeply matrixed life and wondered about which
one leads home.
I am a Feminist in pieces. Fighting for the rights of my Sistas. With a
headwrap as my crown and a body studded with symbols of “my history,” I have
taken more than one journey towards the light, towards the freedom that my
Sistas and I sought in honor of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Assata Shakur
and Angela Davis. Still tied to my mother’s umbilical cord, I walked tall
knowing that I was Black, African, Beautiful, and destined to fulfill “the
dream.” I walked tall, Black, African, and Beautiful…or did I ?
I am a Feminist in pieces. Struggling to hold myself together. Bursting
at the seams with Black pride, American patriotism, and an indescribable
Indianness, I am a cocktail for which there is no recipe. The voices inside me
say that I am less a rooted revolutionary and more the seasonal pollen that
floats above the fields. Settling wherever the gentle and furious winds take
me, I belong to no one place, no one culture, no one ideology. I am an alien
wherever I go simply because the soil that I hover above never takes my roots,
never beckons to me, never embraces me.
I am a Feminist in pieces. Asking questions for which there are no real
answers. Breathing movements of which I am never really a part of because They
say that I am seated, by birth, at the top of the social hierarchy. A heathen
of sorts because of my Brahminism; an oppressor because I have light skin and
Aryan-esque features; and, a perpetrator of violence against the invisible
masses because I own much more than a shack situated on the banks of a polluted
I am a Feminist in pieces. My voice now suffers from spiritual and moral
laryngitis, consumed by a guilt that I understand but will not own; bothered by
the social infection of poverty and oppression, I have cared for and cared about
those who have laid blame squarely on the shoulders of my ancestors and I. My
sense of conviction and pride, rickety from accusations, tremulous under the
rage of the benighted beasts of My caste-ocracy, and erratic in the presence of
contention, are reduced to that guilt I understand but will not own; that guilt
I understand but will not wear; that guilt I understand but cannot feel.
The Broken People[1][1] all over the world, in sync with their hatred of
everything I embody, rebel against the permanency of their untouchability,
reviling everything that reminds them of centuries of collective humiliation,
dehumanization and a life entrenched in suffering. But I too have suffered. My
gender, My feminine mystique, My voice from the lips that cannot speak,
have also been exploited, battered and forced into a deep slumberous silence.
So now I often wonder, am I not broken too?
I am a Feminist in pieces. Seeking to deconstruct that which I am to
re-construct that which I think I should be. Willing to rage against the winds
of resistance, I am a Feminist carrying my pieces with heart and passion for a
Cause that I cannot even call my own – for a Cause They will not allow
to be my own. Caste aside, Raced aside, all this enGendering has collapsed me,
unraveled me, crippled me, left me as nebulous as I was before the union of my
parents’ spirits.
But still I rise, with my pieces in tow because I see why I was made a
Woman and why Feminism nourishes me. So I’ll look forward to the day when my
Black mother draws me into the strength of her breast; when I am no more just
an alien Buffalo Soldier trudging forth past the red rock giants; and, when
this country of my skull accepts me as a Woman without deference…and
reverence of pativrata
A Feminist in pieces no more will I be, I will have transcended the
chaos of three diasporas, three lives, three distinct Women. My holy trinity
will meld into one, and I will finally be a Feminist in peace, in one whole

[1][1] The word “Dalit” means Broken People, in the most literal sense.
Dr.B.A. Ambedkar, the Indian equivalent of Malcolm X, rejected the oppressive
labels, i.e. “untouchables” or “shudras,” given to people of the “lower castes”
by Upper Caste hindus. “Dalit” is an empowering word and has led to the
resurgence of contemporary Dalit Identity Politics, social justice movements
and socio-political leadership.
[2][2] A value concerning morality and the importance of female subordination
in a heterosexual marriage. Pativrata, a word which may sound new even
to Hindus outside India, Pati means husband and Vrat denotes vow.
A woman who staunchly remains loyal to her husband is a Pativrata.