I had an epiphany:
We are scared of The Dark.
Both inner and outer.
The fragile inner nightscape, we napalm it with opioids, antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anxiolytics. We walk around like shell-shocked extras from District 12 and are deemed fixed.
The outer darkness was far easier to civilize. Pluck the forests, drain the swamps, unearth the fossils, convert the indigenous, kill the tigers and plant statues to celebrate the occasion.
I watch a program on unmanned ( of course) deep sea probes motoring uninvited
past the photic, aphotic, benthic, pelagic, into the inky abyssal womb where the primal waters flow darkly, imperceptibly, where light fears to penetrate, lest it be swallowed whole.
The roving probes that manage to reach these nether trenches always come away exclaiming over shining electric light on strange, blind life forms as old as the earth.
My heart begins to race. I want to tell them to run for their lives, I jump up and down trying to shush them through the television screen.
Because these creatures weren’t meant to be discovered. These are HER children.
This is HER lair. SHE who is part arachnid, fish, snake, turtle, wolf, bird
part earth, part ocean,
And all parts rakshasi.
Not a goddess, not an angel, a prehistoric Rakshak, guardian of the undergrowth:
She is Tataka, whose sumptuous beauty drove holier than thou men to despair, she only wanted to protect her home,
Avni would have never died on her watch.
She’s Putana whose milk was poisonous to humans, who she knew were poison to the earth,
She’s Hidimba who loved a man and sent her son to his death for the man she loved.
She’s Trijata, who protected a goddess coveted by one of her own.
She is Surpanakha who did the unpalatable and fell in love with married men and was slut-shamed into submission.
The Earth had her guardians, they weren’t pretty or coiffed or vegetarians.
They were filthy, matted, wild-eyed, malodorous, naked or covered in pelts and skins
But they guarded the deep dark well.
It took an invasive, stealthy, masculine means
And they called it the Hand of God.
When a Vanar first landed on the shores of Lanka, he was stopped by Lankini, the guardian of the last bastion of the Rakshaks.
She knew then, that civilization was coming to colonise, to proselytize, her time was up. Lanka was doomed.
A spear would stop but one man.
But it will not stop highways and palm oil plantations, five star resorts advertising scuba diving vacays and balmy evenings nursing single malts and an erection, watching enslaved, naked, dark-skinned rakshaks dancing around the campfire.
©Hema Gopinathan Sah 2018