This article contains information about sexual assault and violence which may be triggering to survivors. Reader discretion advised.

By Rakind Kaur

Lohgarh (“loh” meaning “iron and “-garh” meaning “fort”) the fort on the southern side of the city Anandpur Sahib commissioned by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, as part of the five defensive forts of Anandpur stands there now neither as ruin nor a fort. Just a monument of what used to be. Time is like water beating against a mountain, slowly eroding it to rubble. But when this mountain is Sikhi then, even when the water that is time, polluted by the corruptions of humans and various regimes trying to erode away, Sikhi stands strong. That is lohgarh.

I have a plethora of stories, some told in person, some read in news, and many read in books. These stories are about sexual abuse of women by men. I’ve read stories from across time, from various cultures, countries, languages, and philosophies. While the story of men conquering new territories is captured in history books and legends, the conquerors’ role in the abused and tortured of women is often times, lost.  And every time I read a new book, I’m hit anew with the pain they do hold.

 

The pain is worse when I see this same abuse and brutality entering our Sikh homes.  This is the Sikhi started as a rebellion against abuse and injustice with Guru Nanak Sahib singing:

 

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This is the Sikhi that rescued the women from bazars of Ghazni, Afghanistan. This is the Sikhi that has let itself erode to a point where such brutality has entered our homes. Where “Singh” is not an uncommon names in courts and has left a sething pain inside of me asking, “Where is that iron will?” To guard what has remained and to regain what has been lost, like the ruins of Lohgarh, I stand, too stubborn to give up.

I read a story
and it stirred a memory,
A memory that was
hard to let go of
The first time around
It was neither the first time
Nor was she the first woman
Who’s confidante I’d been
I read a story….
it stirred a memory
That has silent tears
Rolling to the ground

I neither spoke nor writ
I have kept to silence
For I was confided in
And will not break
her confidence
As patriarchy already has done
I read a story…
it stirred a memory
I cannot remain silent anymore
I have tried….

It was a dark night
And the none too reliable
Metro service of a metro city
Had left her stranded alone
While she scrambled
To find a solution
Came the chill
We women so well know

The raucous laughter
Bringing that prickly feeling
She tried to outrun…
She fought back
As hard as she could
Got free and called 911

They wrote down their description
Got the rape kit
They called her friend
Who brought her back home
But they did nothing
To catch those predators
Just gave her comfort
Of having done
all she could’ve done
I read a story….
it stirred a memory
Of incompetence of men

That night, it had happened
That night she did tell
And all i could do was
Comfort her from afar
For i was not near
to do anything else
I read a story…
it stirred a memory
Again I am restless

I neither slept nor wept
I was too enraged to grieve
I walked in circles outside
Borrowing calm from nature
With gurbani on my lips
For my bleeding heart
wouldn’t…couldn’t rest
I read a story
And it stirred a memory
Of all that helplessness

I came dangerously close that night
Of wanting those three men dead
Of wishing I had the will to kill
Of being upset with myself
For knowing that won’t help
And of all the ways
I did want to fight for her
That was the easiest to shun
And as much as I wanted
The legal way to bring her justice
It wasn’t my place to demand it
I read a story…
it stirred a memory
Of wishing someone hell

And though I am proud
For her to have moved on
Inside I still ache
For I know those men
Are still at large,
And for knowing
That no-one is
Looking for them
No one to fight for justice
I read a story….
it stirred a memory
Of justice undealt

Again here i am
Years latter with
that memory, heavy eyelids
And torn heart
Wanting to fight a war
That is not mine
But it is ours,
Sometime I feel like Lohgarh
Left naught but a ruin
Yet unyielding to become rubble
Because it’s too hard
To give up
I read a story….
it stirred a memory
Of the warriors we once were….