Listening to Anoushka Shankar at the Southbank Centre (http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/anoushka-shankar-79076) playing her compositions on Sitar: “In Jyoti’s name” (which refers to Jyoti Singh, Nirbhaya, the girl who was gang raped on the Delhi bus) and Metamorphosis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E96xfgcrU4) from her album Traces of You
Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa
SA The musician played the first melody
RE The listeners closed their eyes and heard Jyoti’s anger, frustration and upheaval in each note of the melody.
GA The listeners were disturbed; the melody forced them to think of everything and nothing; all that was submerged, hidden and unseen in the depth of each note, each beat, each chord.
MA The listeners heard Jyoti’s pain; shouting words at the world. Screaming, crying, holding on.
PA The musician played another note. The melody changed.
DHA The listeners heard in the pauses between each controlled note, micro seconds of truth.
NI The listeners heard Jyoti’s freedom; musical notes for the world. Humming, sighing, letting go.
SA Then silence. The musician stopped to pause. The listeners heard no word, no note, no sound. Just the absence of Jyoti from the world. And the silence of all the others like her. Now Free.
This is week 8 and day 60 for the missing Nigerian School girls abducted by Boko Haram. Yesterday 20 more women abducted.
Where are all the women? Where are the girls? Where are they? You ask, they ask, we ask.
Look for them, figure it out, find them, bring them back.
So we do our part.
We investigate, collect data, do interviews, send troops, tweet, write poems, tell stories, draw conclusions, develop theories, declare war, send arms, make a documentary, sign agreements, declare promises, change the laws, say we are feminist, humanist and every kind of ‘ist.’
But they still don’t appear. Not as artists, not as directors, not as CEOs, not as writers, not as dancers, actors, singers, painters or even just the school girls.
So we debate.
We talk about colour. And politics. And race. And religion. And tribe. And gender. And violence. And rape. And terrorism. And every other ‘ism’.
But still no women. Still no girls. In fact, even more have disappeared since then, but we don’t talk about that; it’s too embarrassing?
How can the girls and women all have just disappeared?
Disappeared just like that into thin air?
So we reflect.
We ask what is thin air? Where is thin air? We don’t see her, this thing called thin air. But we breathe her. We smell her. We know she is there. Because if she wasn’t we would all be dead. We need air. Thin air.
We ask the world’s best scientists again, tell us about thin air.
Where is it? And what is it? This thin air. What is that particular quality of thin air, which swallows girls and women and makes them invisible? Where is the thin air which drowns girls and makes them silent?
Everyone says the same thing. We know she is there because we need her, we breathe her, we smell her, we hear her in the wind. But we don’t see her either.
Where is she?
That woman? That girl? Where the hell are they?