My therapist asked me to redefine love, here is my mediocre attempt at it

Recently I found myself in an unanticipated, serendipitous encounter with remnants of my past; it had a profound effect on me and for a few days, I found myself questioning my entire reality and foundation of love.

My lovely therapist asked me to do an exercise of redefining love. She asked me to take a pen and a paper and write down what does love mean for me. So, here I am taking a mediocre, confused, and chaotic stab at it and sharing it with you. Ideally, this should have remained in my diary, but well.

When I was younger, love for me was butterflies in my tummy and hot fiery sex that made my bones shatter. Love was the little tingling in my hands when his fingers touched mine and it was staying up till 5 am to talk to him because neither of us wanted to hang up.

When I was younger, I mistook romance and sex for love. When in reality, love is what remains when romance dies.

Continue reading “My therapist asked me to redefine love, here is my mediocre attempt at it”

Deliverance amidst chaos – How the frenzy of the national capital set me free

Bob Dylan once said, “I accept chaos, I’m not sure if chaos accepts me

Last year I moved from my small hometown in Patna to the capital for higher studies at the University. I had always looked forward to a life away from home in a city which I could call mine.  The day I landed in Delhi, I was welcomed with a strong sense of nostalgia. I have never lived here but it felt that the city had embraced me even before. It was a strange yearning – a longing for a city that had died a thousand deaths in history. A city that had welcomed so many, welcomed me too with open arms. The bustling metropolis full of life immediately announced that it doubles as my home.

It happened quickly – moving to a 2 BHK somewhere near central Delhi, getting admitted into one of the most prestigious universities in India, walking through the small galis of Delhi, and the monumental realization of life not being the same anymore. When I first entered my room, I remember noticing the huge window in front of me, brimming with sunlight that hit my face. I instantly knew where I would keep my wooden desk, where my bed would be placed, and where I would be hosting my small tea parties and poetry sessions. It was a luxury to have a room all by myself in Delhi. I never took it for granted and eventually it became my writer’s den. A den where all the brainstorming happened, a place where revolutions were planned, a place where self-reflection happened, and a place that hugged me back on my gloomy days. Continue reading “Deliverance amidst chaos – How the frenzy of the national capital set me free”

The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part II)

This is the second story in the 3-part series of partition tales by the author. This story is based on true events, and the family members mentioned below are relatives of the author’s maternal grandfather. 

You can read part one here.


15 August 1947.

A date to be remembered eternally by the inhabitants of India and Pakistan. It
was a tryst of life and death, a scramble for preservation of identity and honor.

While the didactic and legislative attributes of this partition have been memorialized in multiple books as well as museums, those who viewed the unfolding of these events remember it first-hand as an anthology of trauma and agony. These memories of disquiet and paranoia are inscribed into the families of those displaced and left vulnerable, every scar commemorated, and each tear shed pulverized into folklore for the children of millennia to come. The lineage of refugees and those of the partition diaspora, carry with them the past never told, their reminisces intangible and aged, and yet preserved.

I belong to an aged ménage of one of the many families who fled from Pakistan during the partition. My predecessors belonged to the myriad inhabitants of Peshawar who absconded or succumbed to death, leaving behind everything they knew – fearful yet proudly donning their Kesari turbans as they marched towards a world unbeknownst to them. Continue reading “The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part II)”

Short Story Recommendations for a Dose of Magic

The only memory I have of my grandfather before he passed away was him calling me ‘good gurl di laltain’ when I was a toddler, for pulling off my part in our game. I would spin around in my lehenga, to him singing dholi taaro dhol baaje. I never knew why laaltein, or what all of it meant together- I made my peace understanding it as a Punjabi grandpa’s drivel, stashing the memory away as a precious obscurity. It was only in high school when I decided to excavate some of my family history of partition through the stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, did his words take on meaning. In Manto’s Toba Tek Singh, a few years after Punjab is split into two, it occurs to the authorities that the lunatics in mental asylums must also be exchanged across the border, the Muslims to Pakistaan and the Hindus and Sikhs to Hindustaan. News of the transfers bewilder the inmates, who, cut off from news, are in a frenzy over whether the asylum had been in Hindustaan or Pakistaan, which of the two their own villages fell in, and how it came to be that land that was Hindustaan a few years ago when they were brought in was now Pakistan. The opinion of one Sikh inmate is sought out on the matter, and his response was always: ‘Uper the gur gur the annexe the bat dhayana the mung the dal of the Government of Toba Tek Singh.’ The words struck me as the long form of the gibberish my grandfather would come to imitate when playing with me. His call had been translated to me, in a strange sense, from beyond the grave. All of a sudden, with this tiny story, the old drivel became boundlessly meaningful, and made me swell up in the lofty awe of being, not rootless, but forever embodied in the webs of history, whether I’d know it or not.  Continue reading “Short Story Recommendations for a Dose of Magic”

The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part I)

15 August 1947.

A date to be remembered eternally by the inhabitants of India and Pakistan. It
was a tryst of life and death, a scramble for preservation of identity and honor.

While the didactic and legislative attributes of this partition have been memorialized in multiple books as well as museums, those who viewed the unfolding of these events remember it first-hand as an anthology of trauma and agony. These memories of disquiet and paranoia are inscribed into the families of those displaced and left vulnerable, every scar commemorated, and each tear shed pulverized into folklore for the children of millennia to come. The lineage of refugees and those of the partition diaspora, carry with them the past never told, their reminisces intangible and aged, and yet preserved.

I belong to an aged ménage of one of the many families who fled from Pakistan during the partition. My predecessors belonged to the myriad inhabitants of Peshawar who absconded or succumbed to death, leaving behind everything they knew – fearful yet proudly donning their Kesari turbans as they marched towards a world unbeknownst to them. Continue reading “The conscious-unconscious uncoupling: A series (Part I)”

Liberation among trees

A grandma and a girl collect firewood for their chulha (a traditional Indian cooking stove) and ask me to keep an eye on it as they catch up with friends. They’re from the neighboring Rangpuri Pahaadi, which houses the workers who hold up my suburban neighborhood. I spend the time listening to a picnicking family, children leaving the cluster to chase each other. Every day is a picnic day because the park is where they eat lunch. Boys who deliver groceries from the shop to the homes let loose in a game of cricket, wary of my dog, who never lets the ball loose once he’s caught it. The drooping leaves of old peepal and palaash trees cave in around benches, where a group of men spends the afternoon playing cards. Sometimes, they complain about the terms of their work, rude and capricious bosses, and having to work at all even during a pandemic. Continue reading “Liberation among trees”

On being Queer & the Quandaries of “Love yourself”

Saransh, a history student, lives with his orthodox family who is pretty serious about their beliefs like most Indian families. Every day he leaves home, walks a few blocks away, and finds the washroom in the nearest cafe where he puts on the oversized shirt bought from the women’s section. He also puts on his septum ring, applies nude lipstick, and uncovers tattoos on his collar bone, shoulder, and feet. He then wears his silver rings and anklet and leaves for his college.

He is a freelance writer, a hardcore feminist, and makes art in his free time. He spends his days plotting the murder of patriarchy and actively participates in pride parades and debates for his right in the college society. He aspires to be a historian specializing in gender and sexual history. Continue reading “On being Queer & the Quandaries of “Love yourself””

People who oppose period leaves: Check your internalized misogyny

Skipped meals, popped three painkillers (don’t recommend), almost passed out in public places, mortified to ‘Ask’ for a half-day at work – Welcome to a day in the life of a woman on her worst period day. This woman is me.

While every month my periods are nothing short of a terrifying experience, the rest of the days are spent nervously hoping that my period dates don’t coincide with an important work event or meetings. From feeling dizzy in between meetings to slamming my head down on my work desk post-lunch and just not having the energy to get up and function- guys, none of it is pretty. 

So when I read the headline “Zomato offers 10 day period leaves to their employees”, I naturally squealed like a child out of happiness, or wait, I think it was my uterus! Continue reading “People who oppose period leaves: Check your internalized misogyny”

Celebrating handmade goods: This mother-daughter​ duo’s indie brand will make you ‘turn your heads’

Dipti and her mother Madhu’s indie brand “Baar Baar Dekho” is a heaven for people who love stationery and little collectibles for their space. The two ladies have successfully created a business that is all about handmade stationery, cute little decor items like cushions and coasters, and a whole lot of love and warmth. This mother-daughter duo are boss ladies and truly make a dream team!

Today we are in conversation with Dipti, Co-founder of Baar Baar Dekho. She speaks about the inception of her brand,  how her mom became her business partner and the challenges faced by small homegrown brands.  Continue reading “Celebrating handmade goods: This mother-daughter​ duo’s indie brand will make you ‘turn your heads’”

To Defy the Politics of Fear, We Must Cultivate Solidarity with Prisoners

There’s a thin but sturdy chasm between a criminal and non-criminal, a ditch you fall through, and it’s always being dug by people constructing something else. I often think I’ll land up in prison for protesting or writing against the state or having the wrong books on my shelf, like Varavara Rao was. Those protesting CAA/NRC have been filling jails as ‘conspirators’ in the Delhi anti-Muslim pogrom, even as Kapil Mishra, whose speech residents of Northeast Delhi testify had spurred the violence, hasn’t had a single FIR filed against him. I look at the platoons of people being arrested under the fascist Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and I wonder what I haven’t done, that protects me from arrest. Continue reading “To Defy the Politics of Fear, We Must Cultivate Solidarity with Prisoners”