Deep Blue She – International Women’s Day
Mumbadevi can you tell me
Why they how who can be?
This city still divided now
That Reclamation be?
Devadasi, make me crazy
Dowry, sati, serve tea
If you the goddess, why the girl
Not safe upon your streets?
Here’s to International Women’s Day (as far as I’m concerned, which is every day)—to #IndiasDaughter, to all of #IndiasDaughters, and all the world’s (and the sons who know how to value them, too).
Please find a link below to “Deep Blue She”, from my album Bombay Spleen (songs based on my novel Bombay Blues). This song was written for these daughters and sons. Us. I wanted this track to be a kind of call to rise up: to love our daughters more. Love who we want to love. Be who we want to be. Make room for each other. Because there’s plenty, and we will not be contained.
Catalyzed by Nirbhaya/the 2012 Delhi gang rape, there are also references in the song (and Bombay Blues) to sections 375, 376 of India’s penal code, which does not recognize marital rape as a crime. To the issues of dowry; sati.
“Deep Blue She” is also Bombay Spleen’s most direct anti-377 track (Section 377, which criminalizes homosexuality in India, was declared unconstitutional in 2009…but reinstated in 2013) and stands by LGBTQ rights.
Which are HUMAN rights.
The song started off when I began (mentally) riffing off that children’s tune “A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea” on the tube in London. I had this image in mind of a woman standing on Worli Fort (National Heritage site, yet nonexistent on an Existing Land Use Plan at the time I was writing Bombay Blues), keeping a telescoped eye out on the bay for approaching marauders…when all the while, the Fort’s crumbling under her very feet, and the pillagers (and literal pokers) are all around her on dry land (even those in ‘law-abiding’ guises; the nightlife crackdowns in Bombay happened soon after my last research trip there and are referenced in Bombay Blues as well).
Everyone trying to blow out her, our, hurricane lamp. But ain’t gonna happen!
In our music session (just after this tube ride), to get into it, my collaborator Marie Tueje and I sang over and over through the opening lines of “A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea”—but a much slower, slightly lamenting version. The song spun into its own zone from there.
So, here’s a call-out for us to keep working towards change. I believe there are so many of us doing this—living this. As well, there’s still a frock of a lot of work to do.
We mustn’t bleep out our histories, our geography—our Charlies.
When we deplete our voices, deny our stories—ban them, no less!–we repeat grave errors. Defeat our very hearts.
So, please, here’s to keeping them beating. And learning to view them in all their diversity as a collective dance rather than duel. They—we—are bigger than boxable. Bigger than bannable.
And our hurricane lamps are bright, will not be blown out.
In memory of Nirbhaya:“Six thousand Darjeeling guitars strum ‘Imagine’ for a much-missed girl gone too brutally, too young, so many miles from home. A dreamer’s dying declaration (echoing from the New York Dakota pavement): Would we someday live as one?” –from Bombay Blues, page 524