Here are some recent pages from my sketchbook, unedited, unpolished, straight from my mind to the paper, drawn in usually less than fifteen minutes.
This was the podcast episode I made notes of, though it’s not my favorite episode. And surprisingly, I have been reading more about spirituality all of a sudden, but coming in through poetry, like this wonderful, magical book In the Shelter: Finding Home in the World by poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama, who also hosts the podcast Poetry Unbound. In the book, Padraig has an amazing chapter on prayer “Hello to the imagination” which changed my perspective of it as an opaque ritual that was not for me.
A typical week in my life, pretty sure so many millions of women across the world have these exact same days…
I’ve been thinking, I haven’t seen myself or people of my demographic reflected in mainstream media for nearly a decade now. While that frees us up to define who / what we want to be, that’s one reason I keep on documenting my life.
A century later there might be no record of what Indian middle class urban working women did, in all their diversity.
Luckily I’m not the only one – Women at Leisure is a great record, our friend Smriti is a prolific blogger too, and there are probably more such personal documentation out there that I don’t know of.
Good thing that women have always journaled, at least for the past few centuries. It’s probably because they have always been silenced officially and have had to seek out a way to express themselves somewhere.
My own great great grandmother Rasasundari Devi was the first Bengali woman to write her autobiography.
This was at a time, around 1810-1830, when even basic literacy was denied to women in Bengal, so she had to teach herself to read, and after nearly twenty years, to write. She started writing her autobiography in her fifties when her children were grown. Around the same time, social reform in Bengal had barely started in Calcutta, but she lived in a village away from all this, and so was completely self-taught.
With such precedents, we would be throwing away our privilege if we did not use a bit of it to bring about a collective voice for those not represented in the mainstream. I know we can do more, and I’m speaking from my very entitled perspective, but it’s a start. It’s a purpose – to stop whiling away time and channel it towards expression.
Title re-purposed from a poem by Jim Moore, American poet.
I spent the week with the early sketchbooks and it was nice to be able to join the dots and see how I found my creative voice. I was cute, so innocent and honest – it’s really endearing. Of course there were periods of confusion, loss of identity – but I’m still here. (Yay for WordPress!) So grateful to be able to draw…Thank you universe.
THURSDAY • 15th Aug holiday: Apart from mourning for democracy, spent grieving for my lost sense of humour and my declining sense of poetry. Which reminded me of what Lekha said once: “One day you’ll wake up and you won’t be able to recognize yourself…”. And how much of what is really worth it. “What is the price of your sense of self,” I ask the universe. “It’s a cup of coffee and a cookie,” says the brown boy.
As I realised that day, I felt in dire need of growing some kindness. Maybe it was due to the daily bustle of everyday life, or continuously missing the opportunities to practise, my kindness diminished and receded until some strangers’ kindness took me by such surprise!
As always I turned to Pema in my search for growing kind:
The last few years has been a lot of late nights working, and in the lows of those hours between midnight and dawn I always end up questioning the larger purpose of my life. This is a poem for those times.
Getting out of your comfort zone always brings with it a loss of identity and the last one for me was becoming a parent. Suddenly you’re thrown to the deep end, everything around you, losing the floor beneath your feet. Not only your body, your hormones, your sense of time and also your relationships, your mental makeup, your creativity and your sense of self. Everything you knew how to do, suddenly becomes harder. On non-existent, like creativity. Or sleep. It’s easy to hide behind the baby – but you really owe it to yourself to get it back or you might lose it forever. 18062017.