A Poem for Hope: ‘Four Wise Men’

by Dipti Kulkarni

December 16, 2012: The Nirbhaya Gang-Rape took place in the capital of India, New Delhi.

The brutal act made headlines globally. I was in India on vacation and was extremely upset to hear about the devastating inhuman gang-rape . The constant news coverage of the case changed my perspective on life.

But I’ve always believed art could speak and touch hearts. And as rightly seen, art is integrated within the word heart, so I decided to do something towards creating awareness about women’s issues, but I did not know what that something would be.

For a few days, I brainstormed, I thought I was a very small entity in this huge world – too small to make any difference. But every small contribution counts.

I finally decided to create social awareness through art.

I portray the atrocities that a woman faces right from when she is in the womb until the end of her life. I let my idea percolate and refined it for about 14 months and then began painting them on canvas.

Painting took me close to three and a half hours, from which I came up with 15 pieces in a series I titled, “Women’s Rights and Empowerment.”

I ended the series with a piece I called “Hope,” because I didn’t want the end to be in darkness.  I strongly believe hope keeps our life going in the true sense.

Dipti Kulkarni
‘Hope’

Creating social awareness is the first step towards the cure of any social problem. My art exhibits were well-received. And it’s because I knew my art came from a place in me that felt deeply for the women who faced atrocities or were victims of domestic violence.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Actually, the pen is mightier than anything else. I never took my poetry seriously. I used to write but never knew that it could be influential. But my painting series “Women’s Rights and Empowerment” inspired me to put my feelings in poetry. I was motivated to use my writing to supplement my efforts of creating social awareness through art.

Then in 2014, I wrote a poem titled “Save Girl,” which won several awards and accolades. I received so many messages and phone calls from women who expressed their emotions after reading it. Such wishes and great responses are true motivation to help me keep going.

I wrote my next poem in 2015, titled, “Four Wise Men.” The poem is inspired by my painting “Gang-Rape” from an art series on “Women’s Rights and Empowerment.” The poem focuses on the helplessness of a woman. But, in spite of her being a victim, I want to see women emerge strong. So, instead of an expected sad end, I am trying to highlight the side of responsible men in this society and ‘hope’ through my poem.

I believe the root of women’s social issues is gender discrimination in this society. Women are treated as possessions and have traditionally been seen as “weak” in our society.

My gut feeling told me to vent the emotional trauma of the female and the extent of fear she has when she gets into a horrible situation of being raped.

“Four Wise Men” takes us through that emotional ride.

 

four wise men, poem


DiptiImage

Dipti Kulkarni is a New Jersey resident and a Software Engineer by profession, and an Artist by passion. She is currently working as a Sr. Analyst in Bank of America. Born in Nashik India, Dipti is an established, internationally acclaimed artist who had several Solo exhibits in India and in USA. In 2014, she launched her 15 painting-series on “Women’s Rights and Empowerment” that gained popularity and can be viewed at :http://www.diptiarts.net/my-gallery/woman-rights-and-empowerment These works were exhibited at various places in USA and Artist Dipti Kulkarni also had several Solo exhibitions in India to create Social Awareness through Art. She believes that Art can speak and touch hearts. She also has written award-winning poems on the similar subjects.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

Moving on After Breaking up With Your Cat

“Take what you want//Take everything” reflects on a time with my partner and our cat, Layla. It’s a retelling of the chaotic night I adopted her. I didn’t know why Layla hid from me. When I chased her around, it scared her more. “Take what you want//Take everything” juxtaposes our first night, filled with misunderstanding, with the rest of the time we spent together. My fond memories call back to the loving moments Layla and I shared.

Such memories defined us; they reverberated in my partnership. I wonder if my partner, like Layla, only remembers her fear of me, over our shared moments of love. The title, a Kanye West lyric, is an acknowledgment that their happiness together–without me–destroyed my sense of self. When I see their photos, I wonder if I can see myself reflected in their eyes. I wonder if they still keep kind moments of our time together.

[Read Related: Artivist Poem Essay-Studmavati]

Take what you want//Take everything

I remember when she would look at me from behind a laundry basket.

A small simple cat with green owl eyes. She was afraid of her new home and its owner. Shit, I remember the night I got her, she hid under my bed, in the middle just out of my reach for maybe 6 hours, watching me. She didn’t eat anything the entire day. When the night fell I was afraid she’d starve or come out and attack me. I was just scared. I didn’t have a childhood pet, I’m not white, I didn’t know what to do. I picked up the whole bed and yelled that she needed to move. I chased her into the closet with a vacuum cleaner. When she ran in, I called my lover and yelled to her that she wasn’t helping enough, she needed to be there to help me. That was our first day together, me and that cat. No one will ever have that memory but me and maybe her.

It was during Ramadan, my first year fasting.

Our problems had already begun by then. Enough so that I decided to fast and show retribution. I’d try to change into a more patient and understanding self. Like the Prophet (SAW) I guess. To become someone that my lover could feel safe around. Somehow, getting a cat felt like it fit into that picture. I’d be a cat dad, you know, gentle. We’d raise her. I’d fast and become New Again. Maybe I’d wrap an inked tasbih around myself and show I’m a man of God.

I don’t know how a cat remembers fear any more than I know how a lover does.

I know her body stored it. My cat’s must have stored it too. That first night, I wish I could tell her that I was afraid too. It doesn’t make sense that I was afraid really — I’m bigger, more threatening. We don’t speak the same language anyway, so how could I ever tell her? She learned to trust me though, in her own way. Her small bean paws would press on my chest in the mornings. She’d meow to berate me for locking her out some nights, or when I was away from home too long.

She lives with my lover now. They share photos with me, they’re happy together.

I saw my lover once, it was on 55th and 7th, Broadway shined blue performance lights over us. She wore a red sacral dress. She said her mental health has never been better. I think she was trying to tell me that she’s doing well, because she knows I care for her. I don’t think she was trying to say she’s happier without me. We don’t speak the same language. I actually think they are happier with just each other. And I loved them both, so it hurts. Sometimes, not all the time. And it doesn’t always hurt that bad. Other times it does get pretty bad, though. I probably owe it to myself to say that.

I look back at the photos, the ones of our life together, and the ones of their new life.

Two green owl eyes, and two brown moonlit eyes. I look for myself in them.

[Read Related: How Love Matures as you Grow]

By Umrao Shaan

Umrao Shaan is a short storyist, poet, and ghazals singer. You can find his songs on his Instagram. His other … Read more ›

Keeping our Friendships Strong as we Get Older

I organize play dates for my children. They’re friendships remind me of when I was younger when Fridays were consistently set aside for my friends. Now, it seems play is indeed meant for childhood and work is for aging adults. We often can’t find time for ourselves, let alone our friends, who are busy working mothers like ourselves. Or we moved into unreachable corners of this globe, far away from any means of physical communication. It’s fair to say, it’s hard to stay close to friends like when we were in college. Nowadays, it’s easier to travel, but more difficult to bond with others. “My Friend” asserts that we should not end let our friendships fall by the wayside. Even with physical distance and conflicting schedules, we keep our friendships close with kind words on phone calls, regular FaceTime calls, or even encouraging social media comments. Friendship doesn’t end once we become adults.

[Read Related: Connecting my Stories With Those of my mom and Grandma]

My Friend

The turbulent sea of a ticking clock,
A constant chime of chores
Unfolded laundry, unpaid bills.
For unplanned surprises, Life’s infinite stores

An achy neck, a heavy head,
A forever strong of burdens
Fleeting as they may be
Yet as real as my scribbling pens

In this world of lonely battles
Filled with competing souls
It’s you, my friend
Your comforting words, long strolls

Your phone calls, your laughter,
You listening when I’m remiss,
Your steady support,
The source of all my bliss.

[Read Related: 4 Brown Girls Who Write-U.K. Asian Sisterhood Changing the Dynamics of Poetry]


The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Mars D. Gill

Mars D. Gill is the author of "House of Milk and Cheese" and "Letters from the Queen". She writes mainstream … Read more ›

Reflection Comes From Within, not From Others

“Confessions to a Moonless Sky” is a meditation on the new moon and guilt. I wrote it when I was living in Dallas and was driving back from a dusk prayer. The new moon terrified me on that drive. I was diseased by the knowledge that my partner, at the time, had seen the worst parts of me. There’s immense shame in this piece—it seized my self-image. If the moon could become brand new, then I could start over.

I often ponder on the moon’s reflective nature and pairs of eyes. I’m hyper-fixated on how I am seen by others. Unfortunately, the brilliance of seeing your reflection in another person leads to negativity. After all, those who are too keen on their own reflection are the same people who suffer from it. It is possible to use shame to fuel one’s retribution and personal growth, without becoming consumed by it.

We can look to Shah Rukh Khan succumbing to alcoholism in his own sorrow and then later imbibing his sadness in Chandramukhi. “Confessions to a Moonless Sky” is a lesson for us: Don’t be Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas, instead embody pre-incarnation Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om!

[Read Related: Uncovering the Brown Boy in Hiding Through Poetry]

Confessions to a Moonless Sky

Sometimes when the moon abandons the sky, I wonder if I drove her away.

If she comes back, will she be the same? How I wish she would come back new, truly new! That way she’d have no memory of the sin I’ve confessed to her. You noxious insect. Sin-loving, ego-imbibing pest. You are no monster, for at least a monster has ideology, it sins with purpose. You sin just to chase ignominy.

But the moon won’t say that, she never does. She’ll just leave the sky and return days later, slowly. And I’ll wonder if she’s new, perhaps she won’t remember my past confessions. What does it matter? Were the moon replaced with one from a different god, I’d drive her away, too.

[Read Related: ‘headspun’ — Bengali Muslim Boy’s Poetic Journey Through Himself]

By Umrao Shaan

Umrao Shaan is a short storyist, poet, and ghazals singer. You can find his songs on his Instagram. His other … Read more ›