Friendship Fortnight 2020: When sisters gather

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Swarna Rajagopalan wrote this after a 2017 gathering of feminists and women human rights defenders in Antigua, Guatemala to discuss common issues. She shares it here to honour all her friends from peace networks and processes everywhere.

 

When sisters gather

by Swarna Rajagopalan

Sisters gather,
sisters who are strangers,
in the hope of finding themselves
in each other.

Sisters gather,
and stories are exchanged,
mumbling, halting, then gushing
like a torrent unstoppable…
stories in spate.

Sisters gather,
sceptical about sorority,
defensive about their anxiety,
urgently in need of hope
and each other.
Will you be the one to heed my need?

Sisters gather,
having forgotten nothing
about the last dozen times they
squabbled, fought, argued—
the Cold Wars that thaw
with the first tickle of laughter
and the first trickle of tears.

Sisters gather,
to grieve over other sisters,
spent, lost, felled,
and to lament the silence over their fate.
When you are cut, I bleed,
they tell each other.

Sisters gather,
and promise each other
that they will not forget.
Not the ones who disappeared.
Not the ones who died.
Not the abandonment or violence.
Not each other.

Sisters gather
over the baby’s crib,
gushing, cooing and remembering
why they are here.
This baby, and all the others, deserve better
than we have got.

Sisters gather
to partake of food, wine, love and empathy,
to celebrate each other,
generously, and in solidarity.
When sisters gather,
they change the world.


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