Of Archives and Ambitions – this time, running for a cause …

At the outset, I must state that I have been off running almost since 2 months now. In early December when I went to Pune to run my first half marathon, I ended up in a hospital even before I could begin my stint and destiny with the race course. In the weeks following the first round of hospitalization, I was diagnosed with an endometriosis cyst which is notorious for evoking a kind of pain that makes you want to yearn for death. I had already experienced the pain first hand in the train journey from Bangalore to Pune and I was terrified of even the thought of the pain coming back to me. Following the diagnosis of my medical condition, I was given some options ranging from biopsy, surgery, aggressive medication and healing. I chose the route of healing where some of the doctors I consulted agreed (with my understanding and consent) that instead of going for a surgery immediately to get rid of any future occurrences of the pain, we would work towards addressing the cause of my ovarian cyst so that the cyst would not recur in future. Going the route of healing meant not simply taking medicines to cure myself, but also going through the rigors of mental, spirit-ual and psychological healing which would form the backbones of my physical healing. And, very very obviously, going through the route of psychological and spirit-ual healing meant repairing certain dysfunctions and problems in my everyday life, including the relationships which form the backbones of my everyday life. Such a route of healing is strewn with a lot of difficulties and healing crises which makes you want to recoil and get back to the quick-fix medicine route to hasten up (read suppress) recovery. Anyway, the issue of healing requires me to put down another elaborate blog post, but for now, to cut a very very long story short, as part of my healing process, I was advised to avoid any physical action which would give a jerk to my pelvis region and cause discomfort to the cyst. One of my doctors said that I should listen to my body and decide when I want to run. I decided to stop running altogether because I was continuing with core stretches, strengthening my ab muscles (my guts) and I was also doing upper body strengthening (courtesy Preeti Ashok aka the goddess of muscles) to keep myself fit and to recover from my RSI condition. Thus, I have not been running for the past two months.

Now, after my visit to Gokarna and after a few fairly powerful dreams where I see myself running with a lot of determination, I have decided to follow my strong instincts and guts and take to the course, albeit with discretion. I AM going to attempt a full 21k run-walk (interspersed with some careful running) at the Auroville half marathon on 13th February 2011. I believe that there is a very fine line between risk and impulse. This time, I am listening to my guts and I believe I am going to finish the 21k.

And I have another good reason to do the 21k this time – which is that for the first time, I am feeling comfortable about the fact that I want to do the 21k for a cause. My cause is to support SPARROW – Sound and Picture Archives for Research On Women – an organization that was set up to create an interactive archive of women’s histories, movements, struggles and experiences. I have always wondered and even felt irked by the fact that people run and cycle for causes. I did attempt to run for the idea of health and healing when I planned my first 21k in Pune in December 2010, a race which I did not even start. That apart, I want to lay down in this blog post why I am choosing to do the 21k for SPARROW and why there is a need for people to support initiatives like SPARROW.

My brief encounters with SPARROW took place when I was studying in Jai Hind College, Mumbai. My teachers – Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Shahani – were part of SPARROW where the ambition was to collect various kinds of records, stories and narratives of different groups of women. SPARROW started off from a small room and with the support and commitment of its founders. Each one of the founders – women of strong character and iron will – had their own experiences as women, experiences of family, of authority, of society, of the politics in relationships which shape our politics with our governments and political authorities, among others. Some of them faced the experiences of religion, customs, traditions and the violence and brutalities that comes along with some of these experiences. I believe that each of our personal experiences shapes our understanding of very broad and contentious issues such as gender and feminism (irrespective of whether we are man or woman). And records of these experiences (and our individual and collective understandings of these experiences) is very critical for assisting in developing perspectives of our and subsequent generations. These experiences are very valuable treasures because they consist of very important lessons and insights that can change paradigms and also challenge existing sets of beliefs.

Often, record-keeping of the kind that SPARROW does – oral, visual, sound and even text records – are not viewed as important for social, economic and political development. Appeals for supporting organizations such as SPARROW does not arouse the same kind of emotions (and guilt, if I may dare say) that supporting the cause of children, education and poverty does. But, in fact, it becomes very critical to support archives such as SPARROW because they contain histories that we can access at any point in time. These histories tell us about the different trajectories, routes and choices that social, political and identity groups have made – why, how, at what moments – and how their choices and pathways have contributed to the evolution of our society, belief systems, values, politics, etc. At the same time, these histories range from being ones which we have never known because they have been actively suppressed by governments and authorities who do not want us to know. Or, they may be histories which certain dominant groups in our society may want to marginalize so that their historical accounts gain more prominence not only for that generation but for many more generations to come later. It is for these reasons of knowing, awareness, paradigm change and perspective building that we need archives like SPARROW.

We often believe that we are bring about change when we support causes such as education, poverty, health, etc . Organizations such as SPARROW equally contribute to change and development by helping us to question our perspectives and broadening them. And, the change which happens when our perspective changes is much more empowering because it is a change that we have internalized  the change and it will stay with us for more time to come in future.

I am writing this post as an appeal to support organizations such as SPARROW. I am running and walking my first half marathon at Auroville – 13th February 2011 in support of SPARROW. I hope to be able to raise at least Rs. 21,000 with this effort. I have also made some headway in raising money to support SPARROW’s corpus fund (see http://fundacause.posterous.com/sale-of-a-few-items-to-raise-funds-for-ngo-sp). Should you wish to support either my half marathon or my effort to raise money for SPARROW’s corpus please feel free to write to me or to C S Lakshmi (sparrow1988@gmail.com) Please feel free to directly contribute to SPARROW by either writing a cheque to SPARROW or you could wire the money to SPARROW or  to me which I will happily hand over to SPARROW. Visit http://www.sparrowonline.org/ for more details.

Pledge your support to SPARROW for our generation and for our subsequent generations – we owe just this much to our world!


About writerruns

I am lost in life. I now run to lose myself and to lose the handles I have been holding on to.
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9 Responses to Of Archives and Ambitions – this time, running for a cause …

  1. kalpana says:

    Hi Zainab:
    You are a rockstar. I will be happy to contribute, tell me how to go about it.

  2. kirtana says:

    Hi Zainab,
    Very happy to support both your half marathon as well as SPARROW whose work I am familiar with. How do I do this? You mention wire, but how? all the very best.
    with warmth and in solidarity,

  3. writerruns says:

    Hey Kirtana and Kalpana, I have emailed you the details for wiring the money. Thank you so much lovely ladies for your support.

  4. Sudha Narasimhachar says:

    First of all, hats of to your grit in pursuing your passion. I would like to make a small contribution towards the cause. Please send me details of how I should deposit the money.

    Secondly, what pain are you talking about? I too get a kind of pain around my lower waist area. The pain is very severe like the contractions that we get during delivery time. I cannot pin point any area because the pain is all around the waist. Even a small jerk shoots up the pain. I cannot sit, stand or lie down. I keep screaming. The pain persists for nearly 4-5 days and reduces only with pain killers, which I hate to take. All these days, I thought it is something to do with my lower back. Now, after reading your post, I have my doubts. Please let me know.


    • writerruns says:

      Hello Sudha,

      Thank you for your response. I have emailed you the details regarding contributions to SPARROW.

      Meanwhile, what you describe does appear to sound like the pain I went through with the endometriosis. I have also emailed you in some detail about what I went through and the remedies I have been taking. Please feel free to write/call more. I would like to help in any which way possible. The pain is indeed a killer!



  5. Hi Zainab,

    Greetings from India.

    This is Samarpita. I am the Associate Creative Editor of Youth Leader India (http://youthleader.in), the India Chapter of Youth Leader Magazine (http://youth-leader.org). We are a dynamic, action-oriented ONLINE MAGAZINE network & community focusing on groundbreaking positive change initiatives, portraits, tools and more. We are not UNESCO. We are independent. We have recently attained 4 UNESCO status which only 4 out of 1,100 projects have. Also, in 2010, Youth Leader India was the winner of the prestigious United Nations Voluntary Award.

    In our attempt to promote the positive news culture and awareness towards positivity, I would want to request an interview with you about the this project you have undertaken. Since I am based in Raipur, India would an interview via email be possible?

    Eagerly waiting to hear from you!


    Samarpita Mukherjee-Sharma
    Associate Creative Director/Chief-Editor – India
    Youth Leader Magazine
    Phone +91 963 087 5867
    Websites: http://www.youthleader.in & http://www.youth-leader.org
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/samarpitasharma
    Linkedin: http://in.linkedin.com/in/samarpitasharma

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