Cover image by Charvi Shrimali / Animated by Utkarsh Pathak
From the Editor
I know a young woman whose neighbour is a florist. During the first lockdown in the UK, amidst the panic and paranoia, the outbursts of violence, and the looming sense of despair, the florist’s business boomed. The young woman assisted her for the entirety of this lockdown. In the months leading to spring, and then the ones that led to summer, she wrote out messages requested by customers on the cards sent out with the bouquets. They were exclusively messages of hope and love.
It is details like these that we wanted to document in this issue. Through different combinations of light, colour, and text, we have attempted to explore the dynamics of space, of what confines have meant to us in the past and how they have been redefined by our present.
In our inaugural issue, we weave a thread through the small but significant ways in which we reimagine the inside and the outside every day. In each story that follows, even in the darker and more absurd ones, that stubborn determination to hope, and to love the spaces and the people who occupy our daily lives, breaks through.
Many texts that speak of the ecology of the Kodagu area refer to it as the tropical evergreen mosaic – a word that denotes knitting, collaging, tying together. From a distance, the choice of words is obvious. Here, one undulated geographic area provides the avenue for two completely different kinds of landscape to exist together.
The signs were always there. Before the doors began to creak, the wood was rotting. The bottom of the bathroom door was pale as if it had been left floating in water for years, which in a way, it had. Inside, there must have been thousands of growth rings in the wood. Each time I looked at it closely, I bet it would be a matter of seconds before tea-coloured mushrooms began to shimmy out.
Charvi Shrimali observes the hidden lives of chairs through her photo series of eateries across different cities in India. Her photographs document spaces that are built for bustle and social interaction in rare moments of stillness.
I have this perverted habit of looking into apartment windows. I think it started when I moved away from Mumbai for the first time. I remember I had felt like I was being assaulted by the malice of London’s winter. The cold winds would blow with a bitterness, like a punishment, and I’d tense my shoulders as I walked against it, my hands balled up into fists in my coat pockets.
Death – stupid, annoying, final. I did not like death before, and now I am even more opposed to the concept. What is it about death that makes everyone treat the bereaved like ghosts? Maybe it is something about how sadness smudges, until you are nothing but a reminder of loss. No one looks at me anymore. Grief is not contagious. But it feels like it is, sometimes.
I write the first half of this poem
while walking to the dairy –
we are out of milk.
as little droplets appear
on the cold milk packet
The first time I saw Zarina Hashmi’s art, at an exhibition called ‘Homelands in Kettles Yard’ in Cambridge earlier this year, it transported me back to a simpler time – excited to use the new Picasso pencil set my mother got for me when I was four, the first thing I learned to draw and colour, what any child learns really, was how to make a home for myself and my family.