reflections, intentions

— Richa Kashelkar, Night of the Other Dimension

Reflections vs Intentions:

Personally, this is too heavy a year to recapitulate. At the beginning of 2020, I sat at a table surrounded by people reciting their intentions for the coming year. What came was grief, debilitation, and isolation at a scale nobody comprehended, and I am pretty sure all of this will spill over to the coming year. I apologize for not writing about hope. I do not feel hopeful about anything right now (my father is gone, and he continues to be). But there is something to be said about time, endings, beginnings, and the daily hum of days that takes us along. This newsletter will be dedicated to all those things.

I will not, however, lay down any intentions for 2021, may it be the year we let be.

— Henni Alftan

As for 2020, here are some things I learnt:

  1. Ultimately, the goal is to love someone without need or panic.

  2. Art will not solve the problems public policy should. Fuck toxic positivity, peace is not attained with spiritual liberation, it is attained with decent money and control over one's time. It's unhealthy to solely depend on art and artists to solve for mental health. That is the job of public policy (better work hours, benefits, availability of medical help), therapy, and most importantly access to resources.

  3. Women must dedicate their life to wholehearted, radical, fundamental, and essential liberation in every facet of their life. However, this liberation once attained, may look nothing like how it was advertised to us by capitalist systems. That's Ok.

  4. We need to stop investing in beauty the way we do. Beauty is not an empowered feeling, it's the social capital we were raised to acquire. We need a healthy degree of separation from the pursuit of 'beautiful'. The most pointless thing to happen to us is this cycle of body dysmorphia and unhappiness and insecurity. What the fuck is it and who the fuck is it for? When it comes to pursuing beauty via clothes, and exercise, and makeup, we can own our money and choices all we want - but as long as this performance of beauty is mandatory, we cannot be liberated.

  5. Love is a complicated, wonderful cocktail of patience and haste. Everything in between is a love story.

  6. In all political conversations, be it race, gender, caste, or the performance of a political party, someone will use an exceptional example to counter your position of factual/statistical reality. Tell them, "pointing out the exceptions means that the rule holds true".

  7. When it comes to friendship, love & gifting— you have to give it the way the other person wants to receive it, not what you think is the best way for them to have it. It's a leap of faith, but a worthwhile one.

  8. We must invest in our capacity to unlearn. And sometimes, unlearning looks a lot like outgrowing - things, people, concepts- that were once fundamental comforts. More often than not, you arrive on the other end with a softer, kinder heart.

  9. Most of us will walk through life with a "ribbon" of loneliness inside us and that might be the most beautiful thing.

  10. Number 10, this quote by Frank Ohara



On time passing by:

— Félix Vallotton

“In my last letter, I told her that the clock now chimes twice for each hour that it counts. The noise from the clock-tower would bother her, especially on Sundays; she would escape the bed before noon, stand in her bright yellow t-shirt, looking more beautiful than the sun. Inside her was a universe of collapsing stars – something broken and fuzzy, something that even she did not completely comprehend. She called it untreated trauma, I told her she was just fine. Now I realize how wrong we both were.

In quick succession, she left – this city, her scent in my closet, and then, me.

I writhed in bed for many days, watching TV shows, eating cereal for dinner and skipping breakfast. Misery became a friend. I asked myself all the whys and what ifs. Like acid, thoughts of her with someone new seared the insides of my mind. Sometimes I could push these thoughts away. Other times I let them take me down; I embraced them, but I could not cry.

The hardest part was not walking the streets that once lay beneath her feet. It was not the jewellery-shop where I picked the wrong necklace; it was not the ice-cream booth or the city fair or the long walk home. The hardest part then was lying alone in a small green bed, at 11:55 pm, dreading and bracing against the upcoming chimes.”

— Akhil Raina; Clocks, Chimes, or Why Does it Always Rain on Me?

On Endings & Beginnings:

— Ekua Holmes

On Memory:

“All memory is individual, unreproducible—it dies with each person. What is called collective memory is not a remembering but a stipulating: that this is important, and this is the story about how it happened […]”

— Susan Sontag; Regarding the Pain of Others (Picador Modern Classics,2017)

“The defeated memory gracious as flowers And therefore also permanent in its way-- I mean they endure, are always around, And even when they are not, their names are”

— John Ashbery; Ostensibly, April Galleons: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999)

On Hope:

— Seonna Hong

— Nikki Giovanni; an interview with Cynthia Adina Kirkwood for Los Angeles Times, Dec 4, 1985

— Laurent Parcelier

On a parting note, I leave you with this song— Country, by Kelly McFarling

The lyrics are so beautiful, I want you to read them:

Maybe when it's all said and done

I find the only thing I want

Is a place in the country

Maybe when it's all done and said

Belly stove and a feather bed

In my place in the country

Don't you want to find a place to stay with me

Don't you want to find a way to stay

We'll have a porch for sleeping on

When all the cooler nights are gone

And the dogs come out to greet me

And in the kitchen light comes through

For all the growing up we'll do

If you come here to meet me

Don't you want to find a place for sinking in

Don't you want to sit and watch the rain begin

Cause I'm getting tired of the speed of things these days

And I want to take my time and not give it all away

My distance from the fire's what I've earned

And I think that a slow burn is what will be keep me warm

We can fill it with instruments

The legacy of time we spent

All the places in this country

Desert varnish on the stars

Love songs and passing cars

All the places in this country

Don't you want to find a place to stay with me

Don't you want to find a way

— Kelly Lauren Mcfarling

— Etienne-Jules Marey, Flight of a Heron, c. 1883

As always, you can find more art & poetry on

Cover art by Richa Kashelkar. You can find more of her work on her Instagram, and her website where she’s selling some lovely prints!