The Ultimate Power of Femininity (Durga) Always Wins
The divine feminine in us
We cannot be stopped
Eyes wild with anger
Suddenly returning to the wisdom
of and old soul
with beeswax on her lips.
Breath sweetened by anise.
Coal accentuating the unique shape of her eyes.
Vermillion in her hair.
Gold and silver circling her skin.
A woman who damn well knows what she is talking about.
How do we get what we want?
We must be clever at all times.
I came to this part of India
To see the Bishnoi Temple.
I tell the driver
I will not leave until I do.
He tells me it is time to return
To the clustered markets of Jodhpur.
Now is the time to go to the monument
To the women who shed blood
For the trees of trees
A forest of women
Their heads loosened by axes
An epic tale of unarmed bloodshed
For silent woody children
drinking light from the breast of the sun
But our Jeep driver has other plans.
“Closed” the man says.
“Why?” I ask,
Choosing an elaboration request
In place of confrontation.
He cannot answer.
I call the number of the office where I booked this tour.
The man on the phone pretends not to understand.
I refuse to accept it.
“You know what I am talking about,” I say.
He hangs up.
I call back.
Is a waste of energy.
I stay calm.
I use my resources.
I search maps on my magic phone.
I find a photo of the temple and show it to the driver.
Now it is harder for him to pretend it is not possible.
I know he has seen this Bishnoi Temple.
It is close to here.
I came here to Jodhpur to see it.
To pay my respects. To learn from this place.
No one will stop me.
Because I am unstoppable.
It is that simple.
Now I must leverage what this man cares about.
“I will sit in the tour office, and I will not leave until they give me my money back.” I promise.
“I will write a very bad review on Trip Advisor,” I continue.
“We were happy. We were going to give you a tip. Now you get no tip.”
I think I nailed it.
He keeps driving. I keep thinking.
“I don’t understand why you don’t just take me there,” I say.
“We go to Bishnoi Temple,” he says without turning to look at my eyes.
The whole Jeep relaxes. The tires roll faster.
This man is my teacher. Every challenge teaches me more.
We arrive at the gate.
It looks locked.
The driver pushes it open.
The Bishnoi Temple stands still up ahead.
Like Lumpini, where Buddha was born.
In a strange way I feel
I have attained a victory for all women.
I would not step down.
I imagined that day when the word “tree hugger” was born.
The 300 women that would not step down.
I see no English plaque that explains the monument.
Strange. Such an important place to leave unmarked.
Those women are remembered.
Those women will make us think
For centuries to come.
Down the road chai is cooking
On a fire of cow dung.
The women here do not use wood for fire.
Here the trees are not to be burned.
There’s a small bird perched in the kitchen ceiling.
The peacocks and peahens roost.
The deer do not run.
The antelopes are not afraid.
I like being here
Where the Bishnoi people still live.
The old woman with an enormous nose ring pours me tea.
What am I supposed to be thinking right now?
Not sure. But the soft moment has passed.
I go to pet her cows.
I have watched the city cows
Scratch their heads on motorcycle handlebars.
It seems that is how they like to be scratched.
So I try it.
The cows nod their heads in approval.
The cows made the milk.
Their dung fueled the fire.
The women continue to save the trees
Close to the place where their ancestors
Would not back down.
I thank them all with my eyes.