Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Facing Justice"

This poem is spillover from the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from zianuray and janetmiles.  It also fills the "women being awesome" square in my 9-1-14 card for the Ladiesbingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by an anonymous donation.  Thank you, Mysterious Stranger!  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


Facing Justice


When Chandra Wana was sixteen,
the butcher's son asked her to marry him,
and she refused because she wanted
to continue her education.

He responded to this rejection
by throwing sulfuric acid in her face.

The village women rushed to her aid,
trying to soothe the terrible burns with oil,
but the caustic liquid burned away
her eyes and ears and nose
along with much of her skin.

The attack left Chandra blind and deaf,
her face twisted by scars, but she
refused to give up.

She traveled from Bangladesh to India
in search of a super-gizmologist called Yantr
who was taking advantage of the rise
of the new three-dimensional printers
to create sophisticated prosthetic devices.

Chandra was surprised to find that Yantr
was not a man, but a woman, plump and motherly.
Just meeting her encouraged Chandra to keep going,
having discovered what a woman could do.

Yantr took careful measurements
of Chandra's damaged face, along with
photographs of her from before the injury.
Then the super-gizmologist created
a cybernetic face to replace the lost one.

It had beautiful brown eyes that could
see into the infrared and ultraviolet ranges,
detect microscopic objects, and other exciting things.
It had prosthetic ears that could hear sounds
far higher or lower than ordinary humans could.
It had an artificial nose as sensitive as a bloodhound,
which could distinguish among thousands of different smells,
follow a scent trail, and even measure their intensity.

Chandra loved her new face, although
even she had to admit that it looked uncanny,
humanoid but not quite human. 

Sometimes people still turned away from her,
as they had sneered at her acid scars.
Chandra wanted to tug her scarf over her face,
but she refused to accept the shame by hiding.

She spent months learning how to use
her new super-senses.  It was confusing
and sometimes downright painful,
but Yantr was gentle and patient
as she guided Chandra through
the rounds of physiotherapy.

After that, Chandra returned
to Bangladesh, though not
to her old village.  Instead
she moved to Dhaka where
a woman served as chief of police.

Chandra demonstrated what she could do
with her cybernetic face, explaining
how useful it could prove in law enforcement
for locating criminals and proving their guilt.

She wanted to help fight crime, not just
the acid attacks but all manner of other offenses
against women and poor people and everyone else
who had little recourse in a corrupt system.

The chief accepted her into training
over the grumbles of male cadets,
welcomed her into the force
after her graduation, and
gave her a new name.

The superhera Saamna
soon became famous throughout
the streets of Dhaka, and the men learned
to keep their base instincts contained lest
they find themselves facing justice.

* * *

Notes:

Saamna (Chandra Wana) -- She has long straight black hair and light brown skin.  Her eyes were brown, as are the prosthetic replacements.  She lives in Bangladesh.  She is a victim of an acid attack.  As a hobby, Chandra makes nakshi kantha  quilts and donates them to the police department, where they are used to comfort victims of crimes or other disasters.  She also networks with people trying to make the system more just and less corrupt.
Origin: As a teenager, Chandra refused to marry a man who later threw sulfuric acid in her face.  The acid destroyed much of her face.  A Super-Gizmologist made her a prosthetic face with superpowers.  Taking the name Saamna, she joined the police force to solve crimes, not just acid attacks but other offenses against women and poor people who have little recourse in a corrupt legal system.
Uniform: Bangladeshi police uniform with black short-sleeved tunic and trousers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Constitution, Expert (+4) Police Detective, Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Education, Good (+2) Martial Arts, Good (+2) Nakshi Kantha, Good (+2) Soup Friends
Poor (-2) Dysfunctional Family
Powers: Expert (+4) Cybernetic Face
This meta-power includes Super-Sight, Super-Hearing, and Super-Smell.  The prosthetic counts as Armor but does not repair itself, so it requires maintenance after damage.
Vulnerability: Uncanny Valley.  Her face looks humanoid but not human, which most people find creepy.  This undermines her ability to interact with others.
Motivation: Justice.

Yantr (Sucheta Mane) -- She has tinted skin and brown eyes in a round face.  Her hair is black and slightly wavy, falling to her shoulders.  Her body is plump and curvy.  She wears glasses.  She is the mother of six daughters.  As a physician, Dr. Mane specializes in prosthetics.
Origin: As a young woman, Sucheta prayed to Ganesha, the Remover of Difficulties.  She believes that he blessed her with her powers.
Uniform: Sucheta usually dresses in a sari.
Qualities: Master (+6) Physician, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Rangoli Artist
Poor (-2) Nearsighted
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Gizmology
Motivation: To remove obstacles that prevent people from living a full life.
 
* * *

Acid attacks pose a serious problem throughout Bangladesh, India, and nearby places.  They can cause serious disfiguration, especially if people apply the wrong treatment such as oil instead of water.  There are tips on stopping acid attacks.

3D printers are making many prosthetics now, including faces for men and womenArtificial noses are real too, although the functional ones don't look like human noses in our world.

The uncanny valley is both a real-world effect and an entertainment trope, where people find it disturbing to look that things which seem almost  human, but "not quite right."  See some examples.

Women on the police force have a growing presence in Dhaka.

Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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