Dear sister in womanhood, Soni Sori,
I am writing to you to let you know I received your letter. I read it. Your anguish reaches me. Your very important questions reach me. I am humbled at your ability to think beyond yourself in such dire circumstances. I had never heard of your school, but now I know it for one that nurtured a large heart and thinking mind. I know it as your school.
I have never suffered the horrors you speak of. I don’t think I can even imagine them with any accuracy, yet I have suffered in my own way, and I know the heart break of screaming an anguished “why?” into the dark void and receiving no human touch. I have no answers for your questions, because they are my questions too, but I hear you ask them, and I want you to know that your words didn’t sink into obscurity. They touched me. They matter. You matter.
Like you said, we share a bond of womanhood. We also share another bond. My nickname is Soni. My close family still calls me Soni. So this is a letter from one Soni to another. Perhaps in more ways than one, for I am as powerless as you are, even though my circumstances are better. I have no illusions that in your place I would be able to do a single thing different.
I don’t know what I can do to give you hope. I have no faith in the humanity of any of those in power. They will not lift a finger in aid unless their well being is threatened, and there is no one to threaten their well being on your behalf or mine. We don’t reach that high. If your tormentor can get a bravery award, even as your letters were reaching us, what else needs to be said?
Our national media ignored your letters, our leaders ignored your plight. Still others spoke about it with casual attention as of equal significance in a flood of routine information. It is a way of protecting ourselves too, because if we don’t see a crisis, then we don’t end up facing our failure to do anything about it. The fact of the matter is that your torturer got an award for keeping inconveniences like you from bothering those with more important things to do, like stealing the very earth from under your feet.
Have faith in your education, because when people fail, it is ideas that see us through. I have not suffered your anguish, but I am a mother too, and I have had my own journey through life and I know one thing, ideas sustained me when nothing else would. Maybe they will help you too…
I think you bring up important questions. It is your education that contributed this nuanced view of how many things are going very wrong with the state and with its vulnerable people. Even if the weakest show suffering first, when a system decays, it destroys all it touches, sooner or later. I think that if we must work to find a way to find you safety in the name of humanity, we must fight this rot eating us inside out for our own survival.
I have no answers for you. I am helpless. As a citizen of India, you have no reach. I have no reach to demand justice on your behalf. The laws are tools in the hands of those we can’t budge. The constitution is sold.
A great wrong is happening here and everyone from judges to politicians to police – in other words, the very people who ought to be protecting citizens are colluding to destroy them.
I will continue to seek ways to bring about change. For you, for me, for our children to inherit a world worth living in. That is all I can do, and I can’t give up. Too much is at stake. I will not give up. That is my word to you.
And I hope more join us in this quest for these answers and that together, we succeed in time for you. If not, I ask your forgiveness and own my place among those who failed you.
To the President, Chattisgarh government, NHRC, National Commission for Women, SP Ankit & Co, whoever got this bastard an award, the judge who put Soni Sori in the hands of inhuman monsters and failed to provide adequate safeguards, the judges and Supreme Court and everyone who has still allowed her custody by those who tortured her even after two stones were recovered from her vagina and one from her anus in a MEDICAL EXAMINATION, everyone who is banning humanitarian visitors for Soni Sori without any legal basis, and anyone who has a voice and stayed silent…. Keede pade tum ko. May you fall prey to the same beast you ride.