Sea of pain

Sea of Pain 1

After calculating the hours that would take me to reach Kochi from Goa, I realized I would not be able to take that big a chunk of time from my trip home. Sighing away, with my insides twisting with an unknown pain, I started sketching away, then turned to look at the pictures and videos of the one installation that I wanted to see, to experience and to sink in deep within me, in this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

I closed my eyes. I could see myself standing underneath one of the huge canvas boards on the wall. I could listen to the sound of water, of legs wading, of people whispering, of the conflicts within minds. I could see the crashing waves, washing in bodies, of Aylan, of Galip. I could see the sea swallowing many more unknown faces, unknown hearts that beat for a better future. I could feel the pain in the water that washed my legs. I could feel the sea.

“The sea of pain.
For Galip Kurdi

Alan Kurdi was three and his photograph circled the world.

He lay face down and the blue red of his clothes was striking
in its strange tidiness on the shore. Hours later the Turkish
coast guards recuperated the bodies of his mother and small
Five-year old brother, Galip, but of him there are no photographs.
….

… I wasn’t there,
I am not his father.
There are no photographs of Galip Kurdi, he can’t hear, he can’t see, he can’t feel, and the silence comes down like immense white cloths.
Below the silence you can make out a piece of sea, of the sea of pain.
I am not his father, but Galip Kurdi is my son. ”

The words of the poet.

The sea of pain.

Something startled me awake. And I watched the waves that kept on crashing in and out. The sun setting in the horizon. The stars starting to shine,and I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the stars would have been the last thing they saw when they drowned. The stars and the sea. Depths of blue. Grasping for a hand to save. Shouting for help. The blue shutting it all out. The life ebbing away from their eyes, to the depths of the dark. Their bodies washing in, to a rising sun and a rising world.

Millions of hearts still cry for help.
And a few hearts still cry for them.

Please, hold on, at the end of the day, the dark clouds shall move away, and the stars will shine. The stars, will shine.
Please.
Hold on.

-This is for Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and many more across the world, who have lost and still lose their lives at the hands of politics, power and greed.

Conspiracy

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It’s been 9 months since I have been interning. First in Kochi, now in Goa. 9 months of exploration. New places, new people, new experiences.

But you know what has been reoccurring all these 9 months? Art. In the weirdest of ways.

I used to be a pretty good one at art when I was little. I still have memories of my dad, teaching me how to draw an elephant and a lotus, telling me his stories about art. He would never have imagined his eldest daughter to pick art (read architecture), for a profession out of all the trades of which she was master of none.

Then college happened. 3 years where everything was undermined. The heart was told that you weren’t good enough. It fought in the beginning, but then gradually fell away into despairs of self doubt.

With the commencement of 4th year, I moved to Kochi. Away from everything. And guess what? Life kept throwing me into art. I met a girl who told me she was an artist. in the mornings, when I was about to go to office I would see her, with a bandana on her head, playing with colors. I stared at it from a distance. I listened to my heart beat. That weekend, I went home and brought back a sketchbook which was about an year old, but the pages pristine. I started with sticking the little things that I collected – train tickets, roses and abstractions. One day I went to Fort Kochi, walked it’s paths for the first time, experienced it’s charms, just took it all in. But it was too much for my little heart, that night I sketched away the beautiful memories, and slept in peace knowing that I had locked them away. Knowing that they would now, never fade away. That was the beginning of Kochi Kadhakal. The beginning of so many beautiful stories.

6 months later, Goa happened. And I still find myself experiencing art in ways that at times take my breath away.

For the first time, I find myself believing the words of Paulo Coelho,

And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. 

 

I do not know what I want, but now I very well know that the universe is conspiring for something beautiful.

 

Time

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It’s been 2 years.

2 years ago, I remember walking down this way, taking in the beauty of the Mandovi, the simplicity of the lighthouse and the greens, complimenting the cultural hub of Goa, Kala Academy, one of the masterpieces of the architect Charles Correa.

We were then, 2 years into being students of the vastness called Architecture, laughing our hearts away, clicking endlessly fake candids exploiting the beauty around us.

Who knew, 2 years later, I would stand at this very spot, in the very clothes, looking away into the Mandovi, miles away from those people, reminiscing about these moments?

This time, is a funny thing.
It takes you to places, puts you in situations, make you experience things that you never even dreamt of.

Maybe another two years down the lane, I may have something more interesting and intriguing to share. Well, who knows?

May I have the good fortune to do so. In Sha Allah.

Just a little piece of cloth

This is something about which I have always wanted to write. Something that contributes so much to my identity and me as a person, yet, from the cover, it’s just a scarf. Just a piece of cloth.

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I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember the time when I started wearing it for the first time. It was when I was in 7th, most of my classmates had started wearing a scarf and I chose to wear one because I wanted to be among them, fitting in sort of a thing. Since my family was not exactly orthodox, there was never a push or  an encouragement from that side. Gradually after some time, this piece of cloth on my head started becoming a part of me and my modesty. I started feeling uncomfortable about showing my hair anymore.  Back in my childhood, I was a stage performer. So this piece of cloth was incorporated in my stage attires, partially first with a little covering of my hair, then turning into a complete cover. There was so much resistance even from family first because apparently I was taking it ‘overboard’. But the little me stood my ground, because this was something that obviously tied me to my God. Something that made me feel good about myself.

Then it became an integral part of my dressing. I knew I could never go out without my scarf. Nor remove it for the sake of anythng. It just became a part of my life. What I didnt know about was, how this little piece of cloth on my head affected and bond in a much more deeper level. Till then, it was an external element. Something about how I chose my appearance.

Then came a phase in my life, in college, where inspite of being surrounded by Muslims, there was a constant struugle when it came to my religion, within myself. Everything was blank and I felt numb, I didn’t feel any emotion even when I prayed, that at times I would skip it, because of the guilt of doing injustice to it by not showing even an ounce of commitment or sincerity to it. Just darkness and everything felt so empty. I felt no guidance, no encouragement, nothing that told me to do more. Everyday I would wake up and just find myself doing everything mechanically, getting ready, going to college, coming back. But in those days, when I looked in the mirror, to put on my scarf, everyday, I would see a girl staring back at me, still holding on to that little piece of cloth on her head that she could never let go. And I had an epiphany. I remembered how I had fought to embrace it. How it became a part of my life. And that little piece of cloth that I wrapped daily on my head, was a flicker of hope. A hope that made my heart beat again. A hope that told me all was not lost. A hope that told me that I had miles to go.

You see, that little piece of cloth, held me together, unknowingly, when I was breaking down. That little piece of cloth, reminded me to realise who I was and who I want to be. That little piece of cloth, made me work to be myself again.

I am tired of those sympathetic looks I get, about how I am, being forced to cover my hair. And I have a hard time explaining the fact that it was infact the opposite, wherein I faced a lot of resistance to wear my hijab in the beginning from family. I am tired of explaining how this scarf is my choice, and just is a part of what I BELIEVE. My choice. My belief. And my religion. It is nothing of your concern.

I cannot even comprehend the pain that my Muslim sisters undergo, struggling with wearing hijab in the West. But I know I felt really bad when I was asked if I carried a bomb in my bag, by the security lady who judged me by my hijab, which is the identity of my religion when she let all my other friends pass without a fuss. What she failed to understand was, it was MY identity, my identity as a person.

You choose to tie your hair this or that way. You choose what to wear and what not to, and you have reasons for it.

And just like that, I choose to wear my hijab. And I have my own reasons.

 

Reasons of how it was this little piece of cloth, that held me together when I was breaking apart, struggling to find a ground.

It is never just a piece of cloth.

It is a part of my life.

A part of my heart.

 

 

Mom

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Contrary to the fact of me being her child, she is someone whom I have seen growing up. As a mother, as a human being. My first role model.

There are times, when I look at her, wondering how she never gets tired of us (and we are quite a handful, in varying age groups). I have asked her numerous times, how she does this raising up thing so effortlessly, with so much patience. “I will never get tired of this. I love it. Being a mother.” She replies with a smile.

I have seen her endure and battle odds. I have seen her breaking down. I have seen her being there for us. I have seen her sacrifice things. And each and every time, I realize I can never do what she has done when my time comes. I can never do better than her. Because she is a woman, who I feel, has never had the happiness of enjoying the little things in life, never been made feel special, yet has showered us with love and taught us the same, making us feel special all along.

Mamma, I hope this makes you feel special.
Mamma, you are an inevitable part of our lives. There are still days when I start crying in the middle of the night because I miss you.
We love you, Mamma.
You are our first love.

P.S. She looks so much more beautiful than this.
#BecauseSheMeansTheWorldAndMoreToUs
#AlhamdulillahForParents
#FirstAttemptAtVerticalLinePortraits

The thing about art

Each and every piece of art has its own soul and character. If we understand any aspect of that character is another matter. But, what one must realize is that, no art is just nothing, no art can be judged.
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A random artwork in Fort Kochi.
Art is just a manifestation of our heart.
Be it yours or the artist’s.
What you see in their is a reaction.
A manifestation.
I have seen artworks that have been termed downright childishness, downright real, downright abstract, downright simple.
If a person, draws a sketch, that’s art.
If a person, paints a scene from the real world, that’s art.
If a person, paints his mind, that’s art.
Art doesn’t have to be what you think. When the art itself tends to dissolve boundaries why are we hell bent on creating and compartmentalising them?