My friend Monidipa has written five brilliant limericks illustrating and protesting the state of women in general and queer women in particular after the Supreme Court of India decided last week to keep Section 377 on the books for now. Section 377, for the uninitiated, was penned by young master Macaulay, and criminalised all intercourse that was against the nature of man, woman or beasts. In other words, he criminalised not-heterosexual intercourse amongst humans, and all cross-species congress, gender notwithstanding.
In an interesting aside – and a commentary on mass ignorance – people lauding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a colonial law think they’re “protecting Indian culture”, when ancient Hindu texts, of course, records ample instances of queerness, including the carefully-worded description of the relationship between Lord Krishna and his friend Sudama, the cross-dressing warrior Shikhandi, the king who was pregnant, and the life of the great masculine hero Arjun of the Mahabharata, who spent ten years in drag, earning his living as a dance and music instructor.
But here are the lyrics, the lovely little gems you’re here for. I’m quoting them in the order I prefer reading, saving the best for the last.
There was a young lady called Son
Whose parents had but only one
Offspring – not male;
They thought she was lesser to none.
God bless those parents – my parents, in fact. The “culture” of son-preference is a poison that goes far beyond the insidious idea of choice, and results in thousand of foeticide and infanticide the world over. It doesn’t help when we read reports of first-world parents preferring daughters over sons, because little girls are more docile and obedient and easier to “handle”.
There was a young lady called Mister
Who might have been somebody’s sister,
Girlfriend or wife,
But she chose her own life,
So all of the people dismissed her.
Where have we faced that before? Right. ‘most everywhere.
There was a young lady called Dude
Whom boys at the school found so lewd
They ripped up her skirt,
Smashed her face in the dirt
And advised her not to be rude.
This has become so normalised that for a fraction of a second, the irony didn’t sink in. That’s right, even for someone who has faced violence for looking at a man straight in the eyes. That’s hegemony for you… thankfully just for a second.
“There was a young lady called Sir.
We heard from her angry neighbour
That she had been cravin’
Some three seventy-seven.
We closed in before she could stir…”
Think of this as a report from the local police, dedicated to keeping you safe. Unless, that is, you want to live outside the books of anachronistic sexual propriety.
And finally, my favourite, and a damned statement of existence for so many people, pushed to the margins and living through it all, because hope is brave like that.
There is a young lady called Man
Who will hold out longer than your ban.
She has stared at the face
Of your curse and your grace –
You have done to her all that you can.