#3 Sindh and Sindhis

Madhuri Lalwani, II B.A English

 

when my great grandfather
was asked to leave Sindh,
he said “this is my homeland”
they asked him if he was a Hindu or a Muslim
i am “a Sindhi”
and although the very territory
marked his belongingness
it meant nothing compared to religion
he was forced to choose between
India and Pakistan,
Hinduism and Islam,
fearing naked swords
having a family to protect
they fled to India
an abode to refugees then
and even after 72 years
it’s an abode that can never replace
Sindh,
every passing second
we’re alien to every land we step on
because it isn’t
Sindh

that land with 47 million people
and no one recognizable
the borders changed everything
they parted us from a past
that haunts us
they parted us
as Sindh bled the night
India and Pakistan was born,
yet as i grew up
to memories of Sindh
as described by my grandfather
there’s a warmth i wished to feel
a Sindh i wished to see,
which he took away as he parted from us
like Sindh did from Sindhis.

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this is my family (i found it all on my own)

– Radha, II B.Com

 
Fandom is a very wide space, a spectrum of people from all over the world belonging to different races, with different life experiences falling outside the constraint of age.

I found fandom during a very trying period of my life. I’d just read the absolutely terrible, terrible ending of Mark of Athena, a literal cliff-hanger if you will, and I was very lost because it was the first time I’d read a book and the sequel hadn’t been published yet.

 

No one I knew in real life had read the book and no one I knew could speak to me about it. And I needed answers, barring which I needed someone to scream with about all the possible plot lines that could converge in the next book.

 

And so, I googled it. Very millennial, I know.

 

The first thing I saw was burdge-bug’s stunning fanart of the characters in the books. I clicked on it and haven’t turned back since.
Fandom is such a unique space and it’s one of my favourite places in the world.

The thing is though, fandom isn’t really physical, there is no ‘place’ where you can go to visit a fandom. The spaces we’ve carved for ourselves are largely virtual and as such, they still exist because of the people who keep coming back to them.

 

So the conclusion of that long winded sentence, is that fandom is people, not a place.

 

Which really, brings me to the actual reason I started writing this article, the people I’ve met through fandom.

 

I’ve made my best friends through fandom.

 

People whom I know have my back, and will stick with me till the very end. (Do you understand that reference?)

 

Family if you will.

 

See, I’m not very sure exactly which show/book/person said the words I took the title from, but that quote is something that’s stuck with me for a long, long time. The exact words are,

 

This is my family.

I found it all on my own.

It’s little, and broken,

But still good.

Yeah.

Still good.

 

For all of its shortcomings, fandom is inclusive, diverse and welcoming. It’s fun!

 

And to be entirely honest, it’s changed my life.

 

Truth be told, you know what? I worked for this family. I worked for this space, and in the true legacy of the fans who’ve come before me, I carved out this space.

 

Now that I’m writing this, I realise that maybe I’ve done that for someone else.

 

Maybe I gave somebody else hope. Maybe I’ve been a friend.

 

Maybe I made someone else feel like they belonged.

 

I hope that one day, you, whoever you are, get to experience the joy of fandom.

 

And if you already have, why the heck are you reading this instead of fanfiction?

 

Go!

 

Have fun.

 

And tell fandom I say hi.

World Mental Health Day (#It’sHighTime.)

-Nikhita.U, II B.Com ( General )

 
The moment I signed up for this article, I knew it was going to be a big deal for me; I was taken over by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. To write about something so delicate.

Now, I’m not saying this is going to be ground-breaking; it might not even do enough justice to the ones suffering. But it is going to state the ‘obvious’, because the stigma seems to be keeping it out of sight.

This October 10, World Mental Health Day was celebrated with the theme “Young People and Mental Health In A Changing World”. Yeah, young people. The Young People who are supposed to be changing the world, and they are, but it evidently is taking a toll on them. And for all they do, or atleast try to do, shouldn’t the world, the society, appreciate and accept them better?

Well acceptance aside, we don’t even care to acknowledge its existence anymore; it’s all hazy amidst the unnervingly abundant trivialization and misrepresentation. Talking about trivialization, I hold myself accountable too. I and many young people I know use “I am depressed”, “This makes me want to die”, “It’s like an OCD”, a little too often, and I really hope none of us mean it. But for the people who are suffering, it’s underplaying something that is very real for them.

Not a lot of us say, “Damn, I have cancer” or “I feel diabetic”, right? Especially, not around the people who suffer from them. Because it’s offensive, it’s hurtful. But it’s okay to be insensitive towards someone’s mental health issues? I think not. And that’s why, its our job to make a conscious effort to watch what we say.

So, there is one side that means no harm. But there’s the other side that looks us in the eye and tells us “It’s just a phase”. Well maybe it is, but so is your entire life, why do you try so hard then? I find it impossible to understand which part of you has the audacity to say that to someone who, despite going through so much, has the courage to open up and allow themselves to be completely vulnerable.And vulnerability requires courage. Accepting that you need help and trusting someone to help you takes immense courage.

I believe all of us can do so much better than “you’re just stressed”, because serious issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anorexia, OCD, dissociative disorder, PTSD and the many issues that go unnoticed, DO NOT need that euphemism; they do not deserve to be stigmatized.

In a world that’s straying so far away from its true nature, we need to learn to adapt and help others find their sense of security and belonging. While the triggers range from sabre-toothed tigers and fires, to our appearances, our surroundings and struggles that are more internalized; here’s hoping that our solutions evolve too. It’s high time.

 

 

 

Humans of Stella

-Lakshmi Olagammai, III Fine Arts

 

Compiled by Samyuktha Shiva, II B.A English
Photograph by Diya Alex, IV Fine Arts

 
I am a person of pictures and illustrations rather than words. My sister was studying in Bangalore and she would visit home now and then. It was during one of her first visits that I started a personal tradition that went on to last three years – I’d make handmade gifts as a token of love and hide them in her luggage for her to find them when she gets back to college. Her friends there would notice and appreciate a lot of my gifts, especially the quilled jewelry. My sister then helped me identify that this talent could be converted into a full-fledged business and that was how Mystical Hues started.

Now, the handmade gifts I create range from quilled jewelry to personalised cards, photo frames to calendars and gift bags to money envelopes.

I learnt a lot in the process – I understood debit and credit concepts, learnt what economies of scale meant and even figured out how to market myself better. But this journey has been filled with a lot of pressure and struggle because juggling full time school or college with a continuous business is hard.

I’m lucky because I found my passion at a very young age. My parents encouraged me to participate in many workshops and summer programs during my vacations for as long as I can remember. I attended many different classes but an art workshop I went to when I was in the third grade is what really changed things.

I started taking drawing and painting more seriously in eighth grade. After learning the basics, I soon began searching for niche options to differentiate myself from the crowd. I then went on to study the nuances of painting in a more structured environment at design classes after school.

In grade ten, I found myself a mentor, Mr. A .V .Elango, a well known artist in the South Indian art circuit. He gave me great insight into the industry even before I stepped foot in it. He has been a guiding source and helps me find opportunities to better myself and grow, starting from the first time I commissioned pieces of art work, till now.
Today, I have exhibited my work in over 25 shows and my paintings line the walls of homes and restaurants in Malaysia, US and India. I’m also a part of groups like CWA (Chennai Weekend Artists), and PFA (Platform for Artists) where people from various creative backgrounds come together to create and make social change through art. I also do wall art and graffiti; in fact, I have just finished painting the walls of a restobar in Chennai.

I have learnt a lot in this process of discovery and have had constant support and encouragement from my family, especially my sister who brainstorms and helps me find my footing. But above all, what has kept me going is this force within that constantly pushes me to do what I love. And that’s what happens when you make your passion your dream.

 

News in Bite Size

– Revathy, II B.A. English
– Swetha, II B.A. English

 

  1. The month of October brought the news of a massive earthquake that struck Indonesia which marked a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. The earthquake lead to a tsunami causing havoc in the island nation. Several houses were washed away from the shores by the waves which rose up to a height of 10000 feet. Thousands of casualties were reported while hundreds of people went missing. There was a huge loss of life and property. The rescue operations have saved and evacuated several people from the nation to nearby countries.

 

  1. The Norwegian Nobel committee announced the Nobel Prize for science and peace for the year 2018 in the first week of October. The Nobel Prize for physics was shared between three recipients. Arthur Ashkin was awarded for his discovery of ‘optical tweezers’ which will enhance biological research in the world. Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland were awarded for their path breaking research on ultra-short optical pulses.
    The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold for the directed evolution of enzymes, and jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter for phage display of peptides and antibodies.
    James P Hallison and Tasuku Honjo were awarded The Nobel Prize for medicine this year for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation. This will open up a new way tackle cancer, for the looming number of cancer patients all over the world.
    Nadia Murad a rescued ISIS sex slave, human rights activist and the founder of Nadia’s Initiative was awarded the Nobel peace prize 2018 along with Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist who treats rape victims in war torn countries. Both were awarded Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
    William D Nordhaus and Paul M Romer have been recognised for their revolutionary study of integrating long run macroeconomic analysis with climate change and technological inventions. The Norwegian Nobel committee has awarded them with the Economics Nobel Prize for this year.

 

  1. Indian media was storming with the #MeToo movement topping the headlines. The social media row started when a Hindi film actress accused a senior actor for assaulting her a decade ago. Soon, the campaign flared up with more people within the film industry opening up about the sexual violence inflicted upon them in the industry. Even though the campaign was started by people from the film industry, women from different fields have also opened about the abuse they go though in their workplaces. The campaign has brought forward the wounds and hidden stories of women under abuse.

 

  1. The Supreme Court lifted the age-old ban restricting women from entering the Sabarimala temple. It permitted women between menarche and menopause to enter the temple. The Supreme Court observed the practice to be one of “hegemonic patriarchy”. Several Hindu groups in Kerala are against the removal of the ban and are organising state-wide protests. As of now, three women have attempted to enter the temple under police protection but had to return due to the protest from the devotees and the priest community.

 

 

  1. An Indian Railways passenger train ran over a crowd of people who were witnessing the burning of Ravan as part of the Dussehra celebrations in Amritsar. The accident left more than 50 people dead. The Railway ministry and The Prime Minister marked their condolences on the devastating incident.

A Little Bit About the Septimus Heap and Araminta Spook Worlds

– Art by Mark Zug
– Divya Iyer, II B.S.W

 

 

There are lots of things I can say if we’re talking about fandom – possibly enough to fill a book or start a podcast. What I find most enthralling is how completely fictional worlds have the power to affect and influence us, so that’s what I’m going to focus on in the context of the world of Septimus Heap. Septimus Heap is the protagonist of a seven-part series of the same name written by Angie Sage, who has also written Araminta Spook and the TodHunter Moon trilogy, which occurs in the same universe as Septimus Heap, but in the future when the kids have all grown up.

Unlike most fellow Sep Heap enthusiasts I have met, my introduction to Angie Sage’s work was her Araminta Spook series. The summer between third and fourth grade was probably my first time reading these books. They’re very important to me, because they introduced me to Angie’s work, and gave me a relatable pre-teen female heroine.

Araminta is a vibrant protagonist who does what she wants almost all the time. She’s bold, creative and outright ridiculous in the way that only people who take things very seriously and feel things intensely are. She can sometimes be thoughtless or non-empathetic, but she’s not a bad person and she almost always has good intentions. Some of her plans are unnecessary and extreme but that is what is so compelling about them – Araminta to me personifies those aspects of childhood that are naive but knowing and what it feels like to be young and not to be taken seriously but to enjoy yourself and learn how to live with that anyway. Araminta’s universe is strange in the same way that magical surrealism is – if you convince yourself that there is nothing out of the ordinary, you may be able to believe it.

For those people who haven’t read the series, or who do not remember being nine years old, allow me to remind you of how intimidating big books were. The Septimus Heap volumes were immense. There were seven books has forty nine chapters as well as an appendix. The length would have been intimidating, but the world within the books was compelling enough to draw me in.

The Septimus Heap series instilled a real sense of wonder and adventure in me. For most of my pre-teen years, especially when I was twelve, I lived with a sense of amazement at being alive and the awareness that anything could happen, anytime. They also taught me a lot about friendships and perspectives. This series has been praised for its strong platonic bonds and how the friendship dynamics are healthy and realistic, as well as for its abundance of strong female characters. All the characters have motives and beliefs that helped give them depth and made them more real and relatable. Even the most minor characters were not forgotten, which is truly a feat in such a large narrative with so many characters.

I asked Angie Sage to tell me a little bit more about Septimus Heap, and she sent me a small essay via email that I found very inspiring and I am incredibly grateful for. She says, about writing Septimus Heap that “characters just turned up. Some, Like Marcia Overstrand arrived one morning with their suitcase packed with ideas and turned the whole story upside down. Others, like Beetle, kind of snuck in quietly and stuck around so that I got to know them slowly and then one day realised that they had become real kingpins. The characters brought their own ideas to the world, and after a while the whole thing seemed to run on an energy all of its own. I felt as though I was in a partnership rather than writing alone.

This just solidifies how alive a fictional character can be, despite never having been alive at all. It’s truly magic. Angie also says, about the world, “I truly did feel as though I had stumbled into a world that actually existed. In my mind’s eye I could see where I was, I could find my way to places and I even knew on which compass point I was facing. It was eerily real. Even now I can still go there.” This clarity is something that I, as a reader, have also felt.  Each Septimus Heap book has a map at the beginning, but more than the maps, it’s the distinct feeling of being there, and how the characters’ actions are so closely tied with where they are and what it means for them, to be there. The fictional world is made alive by these fictional characters, and even though the entire series is fantasy, it feels incredibly real.

Angie says, “Writing Magyk taught me a lot. One of the very early things I learnt was to describe everything that I was seeing. My early drafts were much too perfunctory, I made the mistake of thinking that if I knew where things were then surely everyone else did too. But once I realised I had to show everything as it unfolded in front of me, it worked much better. And I think this is maybe why the world had drawn so many people into it. I do truly try to show everything I see. I also like to get inside the heads of as many of the characters as possible. I do write from multiple Points of View – which is not always thought of as good practice – but I think that allows us to know so many of the people in the world and feel part of their lives.

It took me a while to understand that people who read the books were there, in that world with me, and cared as much about it as I did. And then, once I understood that, I felt a little bit amazed and very happy too. Almost humbled by it, actually. It is really something to create a place that people want to be in. It’s meant a lot to me to hear this, as writing is both isolating and yet oddly competitive. As a writer it is hard not to feel judged on your sales figures, your reviews, your invitations to Book Festivals (or not) – and if you’re invited, how many people turn up. It is so easy to forget what it is really about – the people you are writing for and the story you are trying to tell. So when I hear how much the Septimus Heap world means to readers, how it has seen them through difficult times, how a particular character has informed not only their life but their rocky trek towards adulthood, then I feel really blown away by that. And very grateful to have had a part to play. And in fact, incredibly happy.

I could probably go on about this series, and how important the world and the characters are to me, but unfortunately word limits and time constraints exist (and I’ve probably overshot on both.) To conclude, I’d just like to tell you that I once spent fifty-five minutes of a mentoring hour talking to one of my Professors about Septimus Heap and what I learnt from it, in a completely academic context – with regards to trauma and personality development, and what it would be like as a social work student to work with children who have undergone instances where their lives were repeatedly put in danger. Seems excessive? I don’t think so. Sometimes you learn a lot from things and these lessons stay with you for life.

ALOUD – the art of consent

– Shruthi, I B.S.W

 
– An initiative by the BSW department
Us, the first years of the Social Work department entered college with barely any idea of what the course is about, what we were about to learn or how everything works. But within the first semester, we had built enough passion, vigilance and understanding to put forth a break time event on a topic that we felt strongly about. That confidence and thirst for justice was implemented in us by our department right from the beginning. From a conference on older people and their needs, to a session on drug abuse, a conference on human trafficking, we were taught about human rights, society, the issues and solutions. The atmosphere created by the department and its activities taught us how to voice our opinion, question injustice, how to comfort those in distress and stand up for those in need. We were constantly nudged by our faculty to explore areas of interest on our own, to research, to speak out and then, to share. Our department taught us about ரௌத்திரம் (rowthiram), the feeling of passionate anger at the sight of social injustice.

That anger is what we felt when we heard about the Ayanavaram case where a 11yr old child was repeatedly raped by around 17 men over a span of 7 months. Sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Although our society began to speak about this in 2012 after Nirbhaya, to this day nothing much has changed. There is still abuse, there is still rape and worse, there is still silence. Not just verbal silence but social inaction and apathy. That silence still prevails, and it made everyone in the department, teachers and students, angry, upset, restless and hungry for answers and for justice.

With a lot of support and help from our teachers, the first step towards satisfying the hunger we felt was made. A focus group. Consisting of around 15 students, our focus group held about 4-5 meetings and we discussed various topics ranging from sexual assault, abuse and harassment to more tabooed topics such as corrective rape and war rape.

Once we had successfully broken the silence within ourselves it was time to share this new-found empowerment, information, passion and ரௌத்திரம் with the rest of our peers so they can find it in themselves to break the silence too. The deafening silence that was built around by decades of culture and myths. The silence that robbed thousands of victims of the justice they deserved. The silence that allowed Nirbhaya. The silence to which we lost Asifa. It was high time, noise was needed.

Soon our next step was initiated by our teacher. ALOUD. A small break time event with a big aim. The focus group initiative soon turned into a department initiative as we drew inspiration from everything we’ve learnt, from the conferences we’ve attended, from the passion and hard work of our faculty and from the drive of our seniors.

The process of preparing for the break time event had been a long one, throughout the process we kept learning. A chart show with over 20 charts, presenting various topics; from what is abuse to how to report abuse, was to be the highlight of the event. On the day of the event, the OAT sported around 30 charts including case studies, laws and NGO numbers.

The students also performed a mime and a dance performance, they had put in a lot of effort to make sure the impact of the message implied was powerful. With no street theatre training yet, the dancers and actors gave it their all, channelling the pent-up anger and intense emotions they were feeling. The poetry was written by us and was recited with genuine emotion and transparency.

As the event came to an end with a short yet sincere oration, we felt satisfaction like no other. The joy of having created an impact, regardless of how big, and the relief of having finally completed the event with pride and the excitement of knowing that this was just the beginning of what we hoped to be a long, fruitful journey, was extremely overwhelming.  What made the success taste even better was the presence of our department’s faculty and seniors, who are very much the reason and push behind the initiative and who are adored and looked up to by the 1st year students.

Our initiative, hopefully, will not be short lived. We, the youth need to make it our purpose to fight for and protect society. We need to come together, unite and bring justice to the victims passed, the victims in pain and silence and the unprotected possible victims. We need to do this, not for social work, but for humanity. We need to fight for our rights and safety. We need to keep talking and start acting.

 

 

Letters to the unsung # 3

– Krishna J. Nair , II Year, B.A English
– Image Source – Pinterest

Hey Elena,

Do you still believe that we are the reckless and we are the wild youth? Those were the first words I heard from you while shuffling through channels. I bumped into VH1 screening your song ‘Youth’ and I paused to catch the video of you singing alone in black and white. I told to myself, “what a beautiful voice.”

There began my journey, my pursuit to know more about you. I started by listening to all of your songs and your live performances. I smiled at how awkward you were while introducing yourself in live songs, how you barely opened your mouth when you said, “This is Daughter and we are going to sing ‘Shallows’. I also saw how every time you spoke, Igor (your bandmate) smiled and glanced at you. He looked very proud and I understood why after reading that he recognised your talent in a cafe and that you two set out in this amazing journey.

There have been bands who got carried away after their success, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. This is one of the reason why I am happy that you do not have an ever evolving fandom. You started off from a café, with meaningful songs. Now, you stand in front of a clueless crowd trying to find the meaning of life through your words and you give us the words we seek. Yet, we do not form a fandom. We do not wish to. I do not wish to, for I wish to see the transparent and honest Elena I discovered in VH1.

I am writing this because I saw a live performance video of yours today, singing ‘Shallows’. In the end, for the first time that I have seen, you cried on stage. You repeated the same line in the end over and over as though you were telling yourself something. You shed tears and then you slowly faded away from stage. It was a beautiful performance with a beautiful ensemble but it was heartbreaking to see a woman whom I have seen only smile during performances, cry. I hope you don’t disappear into the shallows. I hope you stay here with us, sing more and give us more hope for good music. I hope you give yourself the hope too and not leave us like the others did. Because Elena, every time someone leaves, it is us who hide in the shallows.

Love,

A reckless and wild person.

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