T. Keditsu’s poems prick us where it hurts most—in the deep confines of experiences stocked into that storage unit called silence. So elegant the jibe, some poems leave us with a laugh at the caged reality of dreams-come-true. The poems can be found piled one on the other, one prick following the next, in her recently published book, ‘sopfünuo’.
But the poems do not merely prick. They perturb the rotting leaves of our most disturbing experiences as the silent and the marginal; the poet politely separates the messy leaves and puts each leaf under a microscope. Worst of all, she never waivers in her determination to dissect our world – foremothers, granddaughters and those in between. Fearless writing can be a pain; it forces us to see.
At a time when we are so used to reading newspapers – our daily bread –flowing with print dedicated to the male experience in Naga society (more specifically, the ‘forward tribe’ male), the discomfort with T. Keditsu’s poems lie at the basic level of reading a female account of centuries old, buried, daily experiences written in fine prose. The works are specifically the song of Naga women but also resonate with the non-Naga-non-kitchen-city-girl. This is her gift to women everywhere: a Naga feminist lens to read our bodies, lives, social and political being, as individuals and as collectives.
The work of feminism, however, does not end at the altar of women. It provides a method of politics to the deprived, peripheral identities, in all societies. Good feminist literature, and thereby thought, can become a universal tool of empowerment and action for every person and community that has had to live with injustices of the past leaking into the present. In bringing forth stories and songs that have already been told, but not in this way, T. Keditsu injects in struggling peoples the confidence to re-tell their stories as their own. The poet compels us to find that which makes our palms sweat.
So, if you are, for instance, a Naga person partitioned by boundaries of belonging within or outside a State said to be of your people, do not hesitate to tell your tale. Tell the world what those lines passing through your belly mean. Talk of the electrocuting pain of being a silent, peripheral citizen of another State, or the pain of being mocked by the corrupt accumulation of your brothers’ wealth inside Nagaland State. Tell us what it feels to be made to walk towards extinction, to have your land and livelihood grabbed, to be denied a doctor for the treatment of diarrhea, to wait each year for the next epidemic to strike.
Let us follow the outburst of the prick in time that Keditsu provides and tell everything that refuses to be heard; for telling is the first step to smashing the powers-that-be.
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