Celebrating courage

Chintan Girish Modi

It’s amazing how much courage you can draw from listening to a story. I’ve felt this several times, and most recently while watching two solo theatrical performances by Martin Moran. This talented actor from New York was at Mumbai’s Tata Literature Live festival in November 2014 with The Tricky Part and All The Rage.

chintan The whole of The Tricky Part is built from Moran’s devastating experience of sexual abuse from the ages of 12 to 15 at a summer camp. In a world where large numbers of people are unable to report sexual abuse, confide in friends and family, or even acknowledge it to themselves, this telling itself is an act of incredible courage.

I felt honoured to be there. It felt like Moran, through his storytelling, was creating a sacred space and inviting us to bear witness. It seemed to be his story, and simultaneously that of many others who’ve been unable to break their silence.

That production had so much in it – humour, affection, the joys of childhood, confusion, hurt, pain, shame, horror, healing. And most strikingly, compassion for the man who did that to him – a man 20 years his senior, his camp counsellor. A man who is called out for how he hurt the child’s body, mind, and spirit, and also recognized for the emotional anchor he became for a boy struggling with his parents’ separation and his own sexual identity.

Illustration: Jamuna Inamdar

The author is a writer, educator and peace builder. He runs Friendships Across Borders: Aao Dosti Karein, an initiative promoting friendship between Indians and Pakistanis. He can be reached at chintan.backups@gmail.com.

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