0.7. Expressions : Still Life
Read thoughts and words inspired by Still Life - a visual storytelling experiment that seeks new ways to look at love, isolation, memory and loss, asking what connects us to each other and to the natural world, and how we are governed by impulses we barely understand.
From Still Life by Anoushka Khan, Penguin Random House India
WATER by Mitra Visveswaran
A trail of water drops
They don’t slide, they stop and leave a crumb trail
Drop space drop drop space
A line of Morse code
‘the things you are sure of
MUD by Amarabati Bhattacharyya
my memory is like a worm
trying to make its way out from underneath
the gravel and the mud to emerge onto the earth
and i do not remember how to rhyme
on some days i do not even remember how to write
but i do remember each time that i have ever cried
i remember every nightmare in which i have died
i remember the stage where i forgot all my lines
i remember that humility was my consolation prize
i remember 11th grade science as sharp as a knife
i never should've taken it should’ve followed your advice
i remember your smile on an October night
when i said my final goodbye
i remember the first time i kissed a girl i was only thirteen
it felt like ripples of cracks on white porcelain
and i don’t fully remember her face
the warmest embrace or moments of grace
but i remember all of my mistakes
that my memory persistently refuses to erase
my memory is like an earthworm when it rains
at the edge of drowning it wakes up to the sun’s beaming rays
like a Polaroid taking shape
like finding a splinter of gold in sand’s cape
through the winding roots of my brain
i remember, again and again and again
that despite my mind’s divine decay
i will be okay
SHADOW by Bharti Bansal
When the world around is flourishing
or perhaps thriving at its best
you look at yourself in the only mirror of your house
and observe the fading laugh lines around your eyes;
this is the only way to know that you have grown.
You wait for the cat that visits you three times a day
and compare his love with those around you -
wondering where it mingles together and where it separates.
I think sometimes the smallest of reasons (like thinking of your cat dying of hunger) makes one survive at the least.
But other days, you see your father with his sullen face, and sad eyes.
He doesn't say anything when you wake up in the morning, no attempts at talking.
You don't either.
The distance between you and him is not just age but this reminder of how things (when left alone for a while) learn to accept emptiness as the only normal.
Your father left you just like your dream.
He sometimes calls it a mistake and you, reckless.
The gaps develop like trails of a track.
Expanding and contracting.
Some days you are there loving him
and other days you hurt because he doesn't.
You learn about indifference.
You buy a flower, let it droop under the sun
and then ponder over the regret of not watering it enough.
This is how you become a child and not daughter (as an action verb because you learn how to be a good one from your mother).
You stare at the world.
Dancing, drinking, celebrating life (as if they know that it is their last chance at making it look good).
After all, we want to be remembered as abstractions of everything we were (not as the shadows of our unfulfilled desires).
This is how I know I will be forgotten soon enough.
Just like losing a one-rupee coin (and not noticing the change in the weight of the wallet).
This is how I know my father will not remember me as a child.
I get up again thinking that fathers are made that way.
You grow up in their arms
until you forget to differentiate between rope and embrace.
And when they set you free (which they will),
you learn to notice how wobbly your feet are.
This is the only rule of nature:
you kill a flower and spend the rest of your life arranging its funeral.
AIR by Ishani Sengupta
lines from a journal
The idea of a new home disturbs me, even when I am uneasy in mine
yearning to find another one, straining to escape this.
I think of what I'll carry into the new home from the old one: things,
reminders, connections - to times lost, people lost;
Will I miss what I have now though I do not want to hold on to it?
The bunch of sparrows chattering outside my window, will they know that I am gone once I leave?
I've read they are dying because of us.
A sparrow flits into my room and hops about everywhere,
not afraid of the trespasser, not afraid to trespass.
It flies from the top of one wardrobe to the other, over bookshelves
avoiding eye contact. Trying to trace its path back, it cannot get out.
Stuck in an unfamiliar place, it is frantic in seeking ways to get back home.
I get up to push aside all the curtains as if to say "There, the way out is through there",
Though what I really want is to keep that sparrow with me forever,
A living breathing thing that reminds me of freedom.
A fear of leaving and a longing to flee polarises me.
Timelapse of Anoushka painting an image for Still Life