Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Adventures of Rachael (and Sue Monk Kidd)'s Book

Rachael kindly sent me a book on feminist spiritual searching, by Sue Monk Kidd, called Dance of the Dissident Daughter.
I brought it with me on my traveling and on my regular living last month. This is what the book did:
The book curled up with me to sleep on the couch in my new flat.
The book went to Kolkata for the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India. Where the book heard rousing speeches ("the only globalization we'll accept is a globalizing of dissent") and waited through abundant translations (in a strong commitment to affirm diversities, everything was AT LEAST trilingually translated from podiums or panels -- and then translated in small groups from there, given India's vast language diversity). The book went with me on a bus rally through Kolkata. We were on the Sappho for Equality (LBT) bus. When we'd pass the bus of, say, the women from the NorthEast fighting state violence and mass rape, we'd try and do back and forth chants, against state violence and the criminalizing of homosexuality (Section 377 and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, specifically). The book was also witness to the sadness and frustration of realizing that -- unknown to me until the last day -- there was significant discrimination and abundant UN-hospitality to the trans community, who did not stay in the dorms with the other women. The book was there to hear a leader in VAMP quote one of my new favorite quotes, speaking specifically to sex workers' movements coming to the traditional women's movement, but with broad applicability: "We are here in solidarity and discomfort."
The book traveled across the Ganga river, profoundly sacred in Hinduism. The Ganga River that is prayed to and bathed in. The Ganga where clothes are washed and animals washed and people washed. The Ganga where people send their dead bodies, their corpses or ashes, as well as their small prayer lamps. The Ganga that is religiously pure, but ecologically/environmentally downright septic, according to my roommate. The Ganga where a woman's torso floated by me, as though that were just a thing to happen, in a small boat on a river at night, tourists and devoutees and dead bodies and dolphins.
Rachael, thank you for sharing with me your book. I tried to take it on some good trips. It tried to take me on some good trips, too.

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