This is a very personal story.
My mother died on April 2 over thirty years ago. She was 42.
She died of a type of cancer that was not incurable. But because we were poor (i.e., we had no money), and father was a victim of tyranny of India’s 1%, where he was going through a lock-out and violence at the sewing machine factory he worked in, my mother decided not to tell him (or us) the incredible pain she suffered for months, until it was Stage 4 and metastasis set in.
With my mother’s traumatic death, not just our family, but the family of my maternal uncles and aunts broke down like a sand castle hit by a storm, because it was her who held them together through poverty, starvation and despair. Soon after, two uncles, one aunt, and my grandmother died, of which one death was an unsolved murder: somebody killed my youngest uncle who was like a big brother to me, and taught me oratory, recitation, and acting skills.
It took me many years to recover from that trauma, and it has damaged my mental health forever.
I have written in various places about those experiences, including the social and political situation that I believe was responsible for these untimely deaths. Plus, deaths and suicides and police killing of a number of my friends and relatives. Not easy to deal with. Not easy to forget.
Recently, a Bengali-language magazine from Calcutta published a long article I wrote on this subject.
The reason I’m writing about it today is to remind you that the same 1% are in power in India, and they have violated my rights to live a normal, healthy, safe and happy life, along with rights of those who fell victims of their economic and political terror. Finally, the situation has forced me to leave India, which I did not want to do. These are unpunished crimes.
Talking about it is also a major therapy for me, to come out of the lifelong trauma, slowly, one day at a time.
The factory my father worked for many years was later demolished by the 1%, violently driving workers and families out of their homes, to build a U.S.-style shopping mall, which young people in Calcutta are now proud of. They don’t know the history.
They also don’t know how my mother was forced to live in a small, mezzanine room surrounded by coal-oven smoke, and acid fumes coming out of refurbished car batteries. They don’t know how the 1% locked father out of his work place, and their mafia punched him in the nose, making him bleed, and then they threatened to kill me — a teenager — because I was also into politics they didn’t like.
Not only my mother was a victim of their terror, but my entire young adulthood was. I cannot forgive them.
I hope you judge what kind of people you want to put in power: the same-old brand of 1%, or an honest, pro-99% brand of people who share your life’s experiences, and mine, and want to address them at the root, democratically and transparently.
There are many mothers like my mother, and many fathers like my father, who are silently asking for justice.
With You, Forever,
Brooklyn, New York