a letter to delhi

delhi, you are a ghost. I hear your voice — conversations I can’t tune out, the auto rickshaws’ whirring motor, songs on night time radio. and I feel your stare on my face, brazen, burning.

you see me, but I can’t see you.

your every turn is the same. you are strangers’ fingers on my shoulders, the push and pull of a tide of bodies driving me to the edge of myself. you are streets I can never know in the dark, where home is a hotel and an address I can’t remember.

your grey sky is oppressive, an ever-present hold against my throat. your heat is a slap in the face when I can only turn the other cheek, your constant scream of traffic a sound that never fades to the background.

the only you I grasp for is a you that no longer exists, stored away in the memory of a me that no longer exists. and as you go, you take parts of me with you.

the sleepy afternoons on the school bus home, the weekends spent riding my bicycle with training wheels on. the exhilaration of making the turn on the twisty slide at the playground, and the cool breeze in my face at the back of the auto rickshaw.

the only comfort remaining is the bitter trace you leave behind. while I can’t love you again, at least hatred is only a step away from the love I used to feel, back when you were my whole world.

with you, hate is as close as I’ll ever come to love.


Header image Aquib Akhter on Unsplash.

Is Diversity in Art a Requirement?

Recently, Stephen King tweeted that he would “never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” He seems to be talking about this year’s Oscars nominations, which the BBC has dubbed “not a good year for diversity in the top categories”.

King later followed up to his statement: “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.” And in another tweet: “You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

This incident doesn’t necessarily make Stephen King problematic. I’m not out to criticise him, but to explore the questions that his statements raise.

Stephen_King.jpg
Stephen King | Source: pinguino k, licensed via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

To me, Stephen King’s initial statement and his follow ups feel contradictory. On one hand, he asserts that quality matters more than concerns of diversity. Yet, he also concedes that it’s critical for everyone, including minority groups, to have an equal playing field — which is the exact purpose of the focus on diversity and inclusion.

Another issue, which several people mentioned in their replies to King’s tweet, is that he seems to create a dichotomy between quality and diversity, looking at them as separate qualities. But you can’t really have one without the other.

Continue reading “Is Diversity in Art a Requirement?”

Lessons I Learned Over a Decade

As 2020 starts off a brand new decade, people are taking the opportunity to reflect on the previous one. The idea of ten years feels like eternity. But when I think about myself ten years ago compared to myself now, the distance seems even more vast. To map the journey from 13 to 23, here are some of the most formative lessons I learned over the last decade.


When I was 13 years old, I learned that some friendships don’t fade; they’re broken to pieces. At the same time, I realised at 14 that new bonds can quietly materialise when you’re unaware.

Ultimately, most people in life come and go. That’s just how it is. And at 15, I learned that walking long distances isn’t as difficult if you’re walking with the right people.

At 16 years, I learned what it’s like being alone despite being surrounded by people. Still, there’s hope. Old places can be imbued with new memories. At 17, the same paths I once walked in exhaustion later led to new adventures.

Continue reading “Lessons I Learned Over a Decade”