the politics of courage

the politics of art,
of having a voice,
the politics of courage
the politics of protest
are like angry young ravines
on old mountains—
fraught with sharp edges
we’ve never seen
on masses we thought
we knew
like the back of our palm
where the blue streams jut out on the way to our hearts.
the anger of the ravines changing
the landscape, the time,
the familiar
they’re changing,
they’re changing
and disenfranchising
the rotten, the scraggly, the worn out ideas and corners of our time.
rights, loyalities, authorities, duties, demands, divinities, all—
questioned, stopped, suppressed, made subversive to beliefs
that the
mountains believing to be mighty and superior
hold on to, to school
the exuberance, the cultures of protest, of questions that may not make old mountains seem as mighty as it were.
“yet here I am, and I am changing
the courses of histories, of politics, of beliefs. I am changing the perspectives and lenses with which we shall create a new world. I am here and I am questioning, choosing my battles, though the journey may be arduous, unagreeable. I am here though the paths may be hewn with battles shaking beliefs to the core, yours and mine. I am here and I have chosen my battles. you may come at me with your weapons, which time will eventually blunt. I am here and I call on you as my comrades dance with joy, anger, exuberance. I call on you to join me on the right side of history.”


Micro Agressions


Hey Boy,

Sitting in your privileged cocoon,


Across the internet

Letting your privileged protective bubble grow

Telling me that my micro aggressions won’t change a thing

Do you even know what that word means?

Micro agressions are the knicks and cuts

That I get on my skin

Because patriarchy deemed only a girl who can

shave with the precision of a gymnast everyday

Matches the euro centric standards of beauty that

You have accepted and redeemed.

Micro aggressions are the wounds

That women get on their feet

Because a powerful woman

Is only one in high heels, right?

Micro aggressions are the wounds

Women get on their feet


Because a useful woman/wife/mother/sister/child

Is one who can travel ten thousand steps or more

To fetch water for the fam

Because the definition of domestic labour is so deep rooted

It threatens masculinities of all kinds

If you were to walk those same miles,

Or collaborate on a solution

That did not normalise this tradition.

Micro aggressions are the sounds

That you hear when a girl

Who has just pretended to enjoy a meal

Compulsively rushes to the school washroom to throw it up

Because your precious patriarchy has deemed that to be a 10 for you

she has to be 4 or below and right now she’s a 6

Micro aggression is the pain a woman feels when she bears one of our own

without the medication

That modern medicine can provide and yet denies her because

men sitting in comfortable seats leading comfortable lives

Old men often out of touch with reality

but in touch with money, power and privilege,

In parliaments and stately court houses of the world don’t think

it is an important enough policy.

Micro aggressions are sounds of gates and doors being locked up

for women much earlier

Than they are for you boy, so every time I desire to step out

into the evening sun

I feel like a criminal while you can bother, molest,

even rape women who have dared to

Claim the night just as much as you.

Micro aggression is every time you attempt to violate my spaces.

Hey boy, micro aggressions are every time I say no and you think

It’s a yes, and when I say yes so you think I am easy

and I will always say yes and

My no has no value.


Do you hear the sound of these micro aggressions

Clamoring in my life?

Do you hear the sound of micro aggressions that I must endure

Every time I even make a decision?

You think linking arms with my sisters and allies over the internet

In a way that may ask you to come down from the pedestal

You have become so used to you don’t see it anymore

Is micro aggression?

Hey boy, do you know when life itself is an aggression full of these

Unpleasant sounds and wounds and sights

That you and patriarchy have decided to mute out of your lives

Are fighting hard to further mute

We’ll keep up this protest, this fight.

I wrote this piece because my first level of fight in dismantling patriarchy- and the fight for a lot of people in the same- is the internet. Yet, we have a lot of people who tell us that hey, don’t make everything  a gendered issue. This is the most common refrain I have heard- “why is everything a women’s issue for you?” from the same people who say- “I apologise from my gender “, when something tragic happens. Stop apologising and stop clamping yourself and others down. Think about the problem. Think about why we feel the need to have these micro-aggressions and think about the aggressions you cause on a daily basis. How can you change that? Start a dialogue. The personal is political. I am reclaiming the word “micro-aggression”.

Protecting abusive academic men because of their ‘genius’ must stop

feminist academic collective

5202454842_700dc53a37_oJemima Repo

In the last two weeks, we have seen gender, higher education and celebrity revolving around one issue our news feeds. No, I am not referring to Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s appointment as Visiting Professor at the LSE, but rather the series of revelations relating to violence against women in academia and the celebrity-verse. First, on 20th May, Buzzfeed broke the story about two allegations against renowned Yale professor Thomas Pogge for sexual misconduct. Then, on 28th May, global news outlets reported that the Los Angeles Superior Court had issued Johnny Depp with a restraining order in response to his wife Amber Heard’s evidence of a history of domestic violence during their relationship. Finally, on 30th May, one of the world’s best-known feminist scholars, Sara Ahmed, resigned from her professorship at Goldsmiths University due to the institution’s failure to tackle sexual harassment. Brought side by side, three…

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Sometimes, just sometimes I whisper things to you in my head. Things I cannot tell you just yet, because I don’t know how you feel about love. All of this love bursting over to engulf.
Sometimes I want to tell you the subtext, instead of artfully masking my words. I want to tell you what I am not saying.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to be able to hold you. Feel your skin. And the bones against your skin.
And sometimes I want to be able to whisper things to you, over your shoulder blades and not just in my head. Just so you could actually hear it.

And look into my eyes once you have.

Five to Nineteen: A Life

5, they talked about my wedding bells and finery,
someone who would come rescue me
on a white horse?- I listened perturbed.

9, they teased me about some awkward lanky human,
who liked me- they said I liked him too- eh?

12, when breasts and curves started colonizing my body, I wondered if indeed
I should have been an awkward lanky human.

13, that grouchy nun rapped me on my knuckles for
wrong hair (too short)- wrong clothes (I wore pants)- wrong name- wrong-
for kissing the most beautiful creature- classmate- woman?- I had ever known
in the dark cave of the washroom-
but the creature had liked it too!

15, I needed escape from this town that
gnawed at every minute of my
existence, mocked, threatened to
consume me from within —
eyes quickly averted as I walked- chuckles- violation- muffled screams- blood- pain- worthlessness.
Even love fled in fear.

17, I had arrived. Abandoned from home, three thousand in savings,
warned never to show my face in that crowd- i found an escape from
the constant mutilation,
I arrived when I saw you-
my first glimpse of the city waiting for a friend on the kerb.
Directions- something I had never needed- I asked you for directions and
gave you my soul.
We made conversation- you smiled.
Over a haze of caffeine and snap decisions, you took an utter stranger
into your home.
I found home when you reached into
the recesses of your attic,
to bring up boxes full of your memories
and create my little corner-
give me possession of everything,
but you.
When you doubled up in laughter
and caved into my bosom, I wanted
to kiss you in every language I had
heard or known.
All my nights were spent imagining
the contours and coarseness of
the body that protected your soul,
how we should be waking up tangled in
skin under the threadbare blanket.
I wanted to be a spectre in every moment of your life—
meander its ambiguities the way
you twirled your hair around your fingers. 
I tasted fire every time you shed your clothes anew-
almost pushed to desire what it was
to run my finger around your belly button up to the faultlines between your breasts – feel
your hair-skin-jaw-bones-cheek.
I filled my days with books and writing
about you, even as many jobs ate up my soul, you filled me up again.

18- i took to discreetly sitting at cafes-
looking out for you- oh, darling
I feared that the men you chose
to complete the puzzle that you are could never understand you!
My presence had become a threat-
you wanted to help but you wanted me out— what about the
constructive destructive imagination—
the life we have built together for our souls?
You said my presence gnawed
at your existence, the hue and cry of tears couldn’t move you,
neither did any other hue—
even though your eyes laid bare your truth.

19- there was no nineteen.

A love in progress

For the ‘A’s. The one who reads all my writing and the one who is travelling to Calcutta soon, taking my love back to the city.

One of the few reasons I started this blog way back in 2011 was because I wanted to write about Calcutta.
I had just finished school and moved to Bombay from Calcutta after a rather difficult year. At that point of time Calcutta and its beautiful people had given me solace. But I could never write anything that could do justice to what it had meant for me.

However, recently I got nostalgic about it for the umpteenth time and ended up writing something rather flippantly. I think I was trying to tell someone what it meant for me.

I try to not be too attached to Calcutta. I don’t know the city well enough. I don’t know the streets as well as I should. And most people mistakenly associate me with Calcutta- asking me if I am going back to Calcutta for the holidays and which part of the city I grew up in. Questions that trouble me, because I really wish I had grown up there or went back there for the holidays. All I can do then is give them a sad smile and say I am not from there and then go on to explain where I actually go back home to for the holidays!

However, this blog was meant for me to be honest about things and to also document my journeys. So here it is. My insufficient ode to Calcutta (or Kolkata, whatever it is that you prefer) – a list of things to do there, to get to know the city better.  

Isn’t Calcutta beautiful? Stop the buses in the middle of the street. Or scram about the city in the yellow cabs. Or the trams if you so wish. They’ll listen to you.
Go to North Calcutta. Go to Tagore’s home and know what inspired him! Walk in the bylanes of Kasba. Have phuchkas near Max Mueller Bhavan. Go to Swabhumi for Karaoke. And Nicco Park to be a child again. Go and shop at Gariahat and New Market. And go to Victoria Memorial and Botanical gardens, to soak in a bit of its ancient history.
Go to Chinatown for breakfast. And to Rabindra Sarobar. Go rowing. Or wake up some early morning to see the school children at it- the only city in India where rowing is a school sport, I suppose.
Go to Kalighat or watch a Mohun Bagan v/s. East Bengal match to know what real frenzy and hero-worship looks and feels like.
Go to all these quaint little cafes that pop up around the street corner on rainy days. Or just stop for rolls at Arsalan. Go for a ferry ride at Princep or Babu Ghat at sunset- it’ll be the most beautiful you shall see in your life. And click those artsy silhouette pictures.
Maybe go attend a lecture at Jadavpur. Know how politics and academia throb in the veins of the city, and co-exist. Have coffee at College Street Coffee House and shop for books there. And find a book with a long forgotten note from some kindred spirit you’ll never meet. Many greats before you have done that. People-watch in Esplanade as they go about their lives in a fashion that it seems like you’re a part of some poetry being composed.
And just walk down Park street at night holding hands with your girl. Pub hop there. Duck into the park street cemetery and maybe kiss her there, around all those long gone stories.