Monday, September 5, 2011
"To be ineffective is to be with the status quo, and to be effective is to pay a terrible price" Arundhati Roy
Most of you must have read of Sengodi’s self immolation in front of Kancheepuram Taluk office last Sunday evening (28th Aug. 2011). She was a long standing member of Makkal Mandram and lived in its Commune with us all. At around 4.00 pm, she left the Commune with informing any of us, went to Kancheepuram Taluk office campus, which houses the Courts, police station, Taluk and other government offices. On the way, she stopped and bought petrol. She left the bike before a tea stall, gave the key to the tea stall owner and told him, Please give this to Akka tomorrow, I am going home by auto as there is heavy traffic. She then doused herself completely and lit a match. And raised slogans saying ‘Release Perarivalan, Murugan & Santhan’ till she fell down.
Sengodi’s death is a terrible and unexpected shock. We have never encouraged destroying oneself (by self immolation or other ways) to achieve our goals.....so it was totally devastating for us all. We are unable to understand why she felt that this path could be ours. Also, women in our country have to face being burnt by family; in-laws etc or immolate themselves due to personal problems. So we have always been against self-immolation as a form of protest.
We may not agree with her for doing so, but Sengodi made the highest possible sacrifice, that of giving up her life for others. We hope it will not go in vain. We feel Sengodi’s sacrifice is her criticism of us all ….. the political parties and various groups (including Makkal Mandram) that have been demanding commutation of the death sentence of Perarivalan, Murugan & Santhan….. for not doing enough.
Sengodi was a very sweet and gentle person. She would not even scold children. Caring and sharing was her way of live. We often had to remind her that self-care was equally important. She was very honest and had a strong sense of justice. She was politically very clear and could articulate her views very well when required. She was not vociferous, but always had an undefined presence. She was the backbone of our Commune. No one can ever take her place. A Sengodi comes but once in the lifetime of an organization!
Not many can understand our pain, our sorrow and our loss .... because not many can understand the concept of a Commune .... coming together, living in a shared space, sharing our dreams, our lives and our daily chores ..... not because we have a biological or legal relationship, but because we are like-minded.
Dina Malar (a Tamil daily) has been sprouting venom against Sengodi and today it crossed all limits of decency. It showed its true colours once again. It is brahminical, no doubt .... it cannot grasp the fact that an Irula Tribal woman like Sengodi could be politically articulate ...but not only that...it has also shown its patriarchal attitude with this comment .... it probably thinks women can only immolate themselves over love, marriage or other personal issues, but cannot do it as a political protest. Unfortunately, this is very sad for us all who lived with Sengodi and knew her well. My blood boils to read this malicious and false propaganda about Sengodi. Why is it so easy to try and destroy Sengodi’s final act by character assassination? Is it because she is a tribal or because she is a woman or both?