I singe the body electric - a few thoughts
Date: 3/28/2012 3:14:00 PM
I read Meena Kandasamy's article in Outlook describing her harrowing experience in an abusive marriage. It sent shivers down my spine. As a father of a daughter, this is a night mare that every father wishes to avoid.
I have no doubt that she suffered through the abuses she writes in graphic detail. It is the image she tries to build for herself through a personal tragedy that makes me cringe. Anyone reading the article will have a few basic questions.
1. Why didn't she walk out of the marriage much earlier than the 4 months she suffered?
2. Since she claims that he was already married, didn't she make a grave error in not doing a background check?
3. Why didn't she sue him for breach of trust / cheating her into marriage?
She probably tried to stay in the marriage and try to make it work, like what most of those in an abusive relationship try to do. But accepting that point in writing goes against the firebrand feminist image she has cultivated over the years. Hence that is conveniently glossed over.
A bigger error of judgement was not doing a background check before marrying him, especially when he is from another country (He is a MP of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam). Giving up access to her email ID borders on stupidity. Forget fire breathing activist, any woman with an iota of common sense will not do that.
Claiming that the law made it difficult for her to sue him since he was in another city is obfuscation at its best. I can't believe that a globe trotting activist, one who has access to power centers (she translated a book of Tirumavalavan of VCK and was sued along with him for it) finds it difficult to go to Mangalore again and file a case. It is understandable that she wants to forget the nightmare and move on. Again, writing so goes against her activist image. So conveniently the law is blamed.
You can read the article again. You will never find the phrase "I made a mistake" - in choosing him, in giving up her email ids, in not walking out earlier. No, that will make Meena one more woman who suffered an abusive marriage and will stand starkly in contrast to her projected public persona. So, everyone else is blamed - the city of Mangalore (where woman are thrashed in pubs) (city that did not speak my language - strange to hear that from a published English Poetess), students of her husband (they worship the ground he walks in), the law ( Lady justice does not serve displaced women) - but she never looks into herself. Just a lame "I learnt my lessons" slipped in quietly at the end.
Reading her article gives rise to a vague sense of uneasiness. The reader is forced to see only her point of view. I won't be surprised if her next book of poems is titled "I singe the body electric".
She wrote this article as a catharsis she says, but for it to work, the writing should have been honest.