Shailja Patel. patterned sari border
 About/Press KitWorkMigritudeBlogNews/AwardsCalendar ShopContact Shailja
decorative pattern

Be a part of Migritude's journey.
No contribution is too small - or too large. $2 buys coffee for a volunteer. $15 rents a rehearsal studio for an hour. $100 covers 2 hours of lighting / tech / set design. $500 helps fly Shailja to international festivals!!

You can also make a tax-deductible donation by check. Please email for details.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Ever have days when your every thought, impulse, feeling, intention, seems leaden, clumsy, poorly informed, and misguided?

When your incapacity to execute anything with precision, grace and effectiveness overwhelms you?

When you want to cry every ten minutes? Over the boy who should be in school, who guides the blind man with his alms cup through morning traffic on Ring Road Kileleshwa. Over the shoes of the woman toiling down the steep hill of Ring Road Parklands in front of you. She carries a large sisal bag on her back, its strap anchored on her forehead. It is laden with something you can't see, but her panting assures you it's heavy. Her shoes are dusty black canvas flats, with broken buckles - just keeping them from slipping off her feet must take effort.

And you despise your own easy tears. Your ability to open your wallet, open a window of hope, generate the flash of delight and gratitude at your largesse. Because you know that giving everything you own would not alleviate the systemic, entrenched, institutionalized injustice that creates and sustains poverty. Because you know that everything you do, every person you help, is less than a drop in the ocean. And you despise cliches like drop in the ocean. You despise those who parrot drop in the ocean to justify doing nothing, switching off, choosing not to see. You are a roiling concatenation of incoherent rage and grief, and you despise yourself for giving in to it, because it serves no one, and there is work to be done.


Anonymous Pablo Dosh said...

Nice writing. Thanks,

8/16/2007 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sham you are. You are a spoilt Indian girl pretending to be in touch with reality. You talk of boys who should be in school, women who bear heavy loads, those in poverty, those in fear, those who cannot begin to have the coverage that you do. You are a user. Your fine words are generous, heroic, commendable, but you are indecent by your wealth and status to speak of anyone else. You believe that you are somehow gifted, but really you are just a leach on the comment of what really matters.

8/18/2007 6:03 PM  
Blogger shailja said...

Hello Anonymous.

Lots to respond to in your post - but it's my policy to engage in dialogue only with real people. People who have the courage of their convictions, own their words, and are willing to name themselves.

If you don't want to name yourself on this blog, feel free to email me backchannel - with your name - and we can talk.

Until then, consider your assumptions. Ask yourself why my "Indianness" provokes your ire. Ask yourself how you arrived at the conclusion that I have "indecent wealth and status" - and what concrete evidence you have to support that. Ask yourself what is really triggering your anger and pain - my words, my existence, or the existence of poverty and injustice? And what is it you would have me do, what do you ask of yourself, what do you ask of our society and world, in the face of poverty and injustice?

8/21/2007 1:06 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Shailja Patel. patterned sari border
©Shailja Patel