k i s k a J i s m / w h o s e b o d y?

H o p s k i p j u m p f l u t t e r| Jihaad
August 9, 2007, 10:52 am
Filed under: Abominable eagle, identity, jihaad, Muslim, Screen Sifar, Woman


Sometimes you learn to ignore the winds and just fly. But that, right now is rare.

Here I am. Labbaik.

In order to know the strands of your own oppression you need to delve into your identity. Labbaik. Here I am.

So, when you know how to fly you begin to think ‘really, but this was so obvious’. And you wonder what you left behind, the animagi you create, because this indeed is a place that you can look back from. But today, I just wonder. I don’t look back.

I shrug it off. And then I have to go because that is the way that things are. They must be. Inexorably.


You survive. In some ways because you connected to an underbelly of pain far darker than yours.

Because you sat up, and left. Because you asked, “But how can I live like this?”And you met people who showed you the way.

Because you want to clean up the mess, and confront some of your own ilk. The duck of urgency, the crow of ownership, the peacock of wanting to be famous and the rooster of lust. Because you know that the war is within and you must from within. That is Jihaad. Cleaning up your own house. Your self, body, space, family, community, nation, world…

Being abominable is about resisting: against consumption, and being consumed…

Against giving in,

Against letting go,

Against losing out,

Against giving way,

Against being like everyone else,

Against everyone’s lust…Against your own lust.

It’s about speaking truth to power.

So the eagle didn’t believe completely what had happened. There were modes of reality that still made everything in the Giant’s Causeway seem unrealistically absolute. This was where there was a leeway because in flight you transcend the trajectories that conventional movement bears upon you.

Circling the suspiciously geometric terrain, she sees boulders of absolute blackness, and white shards of wave crests as they burst foam on them. Washed and blanched by the torrent, the boulders bear the weight of time, as it erodes each of our memories. You, dear turtle, you dear fish, and you, dear camel.

Gasp. I need some air.

“And strive hard in God’s cause as you ought to”

And we ought to, because justice is the larger story. And we ask for a hearing.

Still Asking
March 30, 2007, 12:52 am
Filed under: Abominable eagle

One day, by the sea shore. The philosopher turtle asked the eagle fledgeling to abandon her archaic past. 

“What’s ‘ a r c h a i c ‘ ?” she asked cheekily. He was dumbstruck. He looked at her to see if she knew what she was really saying. She didn’t quite, until much later. “Archaic means old…” he said. 

She told him of the man who went into a cave, contemplating the ills of his eon, until one day, a voice resounded, “Read”. He said “I don’t know how to read”. The angel hugged him, and said “Read in the name of your creator who created, created man from a clot of blood…” Therein began the brilliance of a time which lay within her, of which she didn’t know, but she carried traces, shorn, gnarled, but ebullient. Its radiance uplifts her. Its bounty raises her from her mangled frame of pain and frustration.  

“What’s archaic?” she asks. And now one archaic past is pitted against another in order to rob the present of all its possibility, she is unwilling to let go, and searing itself against the tempest, the past hones itself, it draws deep breaths, and grinds painfully against all that was rotting. 

Rake, unflesh, scratch the surface, draw blood, snarl, puke…Pain can be cathartic. Purge, please purge. Two words .Let Go.


Choosing Life
March 8, 2007, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Abominable eagle, LABELS performances


The second performance of ‘The Eagle Story’ was held at the Audio Visual room at Amdavad ni Gufa, Ahmedabad, at an event called ‘Sach Ki Yaadein, Yaadon Ka Sach’ (Memories of the Truth, the truth about Memories) , remembering the genocide of Gujarat 2002 and marking 5 years since then.

This performance is accompanied by a video projection, called ‘Choosing Life’.

Credits: Performer:Raheema Begum, ‘Choosing Life’, music from Soundtrack of ‘The Hours’ by Philip Glass.

Date: 28th February 2007, Photos by Sneh Bhavsar.

This work is open and in progress. If you have a space where you would like to have it shown, e-mail me at  theunderscoredhood@gmail.com.


Acknowledging Hiren Bhai Gandhi, Aman Samudaay, Shanti Abhiyaan, Prashant, Himmat and all organizing groups of the event ‘ Sach Ki Yaadein, Yaadon Ka Sach ’ ( Memories of Truth, The Truth about Memories ) , bravely working towards hope, reconciliation and re-establishing democracy in Gujarat.

Also thanking film-makers Anand Patwardan and Rakesh Sharma for their courage, the conscientious depth and critical insight in their work . 

‘Sach Ki Yaadein, Yaadon Ka Sach’ was a six day event held at various venues in Ahmedabad, to remember and address the State’s vindictive denial of justice, livelihood and human rights to the victims of all the violence that followed the burning of a train in 2002. 

(Gujarat 2002 witnessed an estimated killing of 2000 people, rape of approximately 400 women, property damage worth Rs 3800 crores, around 1100 restaurants destroyed, 563 religious places (302 dargahs, 209 mosques, 30 madrassas, 18 temples and 3 churches) destroyed or damaged. About 2.5 lakh people were directly displaced… 

The happenings of 2002 form the larger backdrop against which the events continue to unfold. How do we then pursue, an honest admission of truth and moral responsibility through a collective and public exercise as well as state’s responsibility for the acts of its organs or agents and for its own failure to prevent or adequately respond to the commission of gross human rights violations, remains the challenge.  

One continues to demand for the right to fair and adequate compensation; the right to restoration of the situation existing prior to the violation; the restoration of dignity and the right to a guarantee, by means of appropriate legislative and/or institutional intervention and reform, that the violation will not be repeated.

A crucial aspect in all this is the symbolic reparation, especially in the backdrop of the gravest threat of ‘erasure from memory and history’, encompassing a process of remembering and commemorating the pain. It aims to restore the dignity of victims and serve as a continuing reminder. As we know, post-holocaust Germany is an example of that.

It is in this spirit that this six-day event is being organised. To serve as a platform  where all of us stand together for preserving the ‘memory’ against ‘forgetting’.* Organizer’s note)

“To every person who taught me to swim…”.An eagle speaks.
February 27, 2007, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Abominable eagle, Screen Sifar, Uncategorized


‘Rivers, moors, seas are soft, even if also

imponderably deep. One’s own movement

in these regions needs to be practiced –

and must become, where the pebbles stop,

a skilful swimming. If we give others the

power over our own movements in life and

language – and both have been dovetailed

to belong together – we are endangered in

our deepest ground. We can only founder

and perish.’ source

And who is the bearer of this voice I found?

 I feel like it came from somewhere before and beyond, you, eagle, camel, hoopoe, you dear fish , you, dear turtle…

Evening morning night sky dawn, as fires burn and people perish theres an energy that comes from somewhere in the center of the horizon where earth ,water and sky meet.

It touches and fills me and I drink.And I cry out and stretch, release my pain, circumvent my angst, surrender the future and yawn out the past.

I stretch, I shrug.I prepare to take off.

I’ll live.

Drawing by Mayur, Department Of Sculpture,Faculty Of Fine Art, Baroda.

*continuing ‘The Eagle story’.