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0.8. Expressions : Belonging and Escape

A few weeks ago, Mysticeti met with a small group of aspiring writers from different parts of India to do some impromptu writing about objects, memories and places that made us feel like belonging and escaping.  

We were also joined by a sketch note artist who created these interpretations of the words that we shared during the session. Which one(s) do you relate with you the most?

Belonging and escape mysticeti magazine.JPG

live doodling by Anushree Joshi

I WALK by Sarvani Cheruvu

In tiny crowded lanes, I walk. 

In tiny crowded lanes, awnings of shops jut out like surprised jaws, encroaching more space than they are entitled to. The gutters run deep with dark black goo, replete with unimaginable substances. Their most vile odours mingle shamelessly with that of the food being hawked fervently on hand-pushed carts. This is food fit for kings, being sold at the poor man’s price. With tiny knives, man after man cuts, peels and chops vegetables and fruits of every shape and size at lightning speed. The food, unsurprisingly, is consumed at the same speed, gone and yet replenished in the blink of an eye.

In tiny crowded lanes, women peek out of balconies, their hands tightly clutching iron grills as they wait for their husbands to waltz home from work. Occasionally, they put their complicated grocery contraption to work - hoisting their grocery-filled woven baskets and its amateurish pulley mechanism, while sending it back with a crumpled pile of notes in duty, and a smile in gratitude.

In tiny crowded lanes, as the land grows scarcer and breath labored, children still find room to wiggle around with their elaborate games. In one, the child is a king. In another, he is the captain of a cricket team.

In tiny crowded lanes, as I walk among people - my feet landing at the same frequency as theirs, my heart beating in the same rhythm as one, or two, or infinite others - I am one among them. I am, like them, a bundle of dreams, an invitation for problems, a sickler for small joys, a sister, a friend, a relative, someone. I am a being. My breath falls and rises as does theirs. My hands yearn and curl as do theirs. I will not admit it, but I fear the same things they do - in varying degrees, and some fears more boisterous than others, surely - but the presence of fear is unchanged. 

But in tiny crowded lanes, I am also my own. 

The vast expanse of my mind refuses to be confined within a tiny, crowded lane, within their sweat and their mortal functioning. Here, now, my mind has flown! It is atop a train chugging amidst snow-covered mountains, with saree-clad Bollywood dancers accompanying the symphony of my imagination. It flies atop blue seas, waves crashing like diamonds scattered at the jaws of their beaches. It soars over tiny slum settlements, sneaking in and out behind the doors that these houses might or might not have. 

My mind mocks me, refusing to return. It taunts me, asking if it should.

But in tiny crowded lanes, I let it fly. A little part of me belongs, but my mind, my mind? That is left free.

BABA'S DIARY by Upma Singh

As a 6-year-old, I did everything that Baba (my grandfather) did - I wore an ironed shirt as he did, I ate two rotis as he did and I carried a diary and pen as he did. His was a brown pocket diary that went hand-in-hand with a blue Reynolds ball pen. The refills of his pen would change, but his pen would remain the same, even when its outer layer started scraping off. I did not understand his reason for sticking with an old pen till much later. 


I still remember how people around him would stand up to greet him or start talking more cautiously as soon as he would start flipping the pages of his diary. It gave everyone a sense of the authority that his presence reflected and humbly demanded. 


It has been over a year since Baba left us, and my way of continuing his legacy is by carrying a diary and pen everywhere I go. It gives me a sense of confidence and strength in any and every situation. When I want to remember a moment, I document it as accurately as possible. When I want to escape from a moment, I draw random shapes in my diary. 

Somedays, I spend time flipping through the pages of all the diaries I have filled so far, including the brown pocket diary it all started with. 



Anushree is a multidisciplinary designer and visual artist based in Ahemdabad.


Upma is a social development and design researcher based in Delhi. When she is not at her day job, she is watching indie movies and reading philosophical fiction. 

Sarvani is a (pretend) engineer whose free time mostly revolves around consuming and producing words. Most of her works are on Instagram @whyyyku 


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