The Artist’s Dilemma

In the long list of liberations that I’ve experienced over the past year, the most important one is the liberation from gaze. Not like there was a particular gaze I wrote to when I wrote here, but in the privacy of a notebook, my words are protected from stray trespassers, too. Not like you are a stray trespasser whose audience I don’t appreciate. But in my notebooks, I don’t even have to consider you.

Psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicot said “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide”. Since I last wrote here, I’ve liberated myself from all desire to communicate. Little by little. And its been gorgeous.

When you’re ruled by the desire to communicate, you have to be so attentive to the person you’re communicating with. Even as you speak you are listening, to their silences, gestures, twitches. Or you’re listening to them speak (which happens so rarely in my life, that people speak). Or when people do speak, you know, just to speak, I’m there, nodding maybe, looking attentive but I’m already elsewhere because I have such little space inside me to store anyone else’s story but my own. Even my own at this stage has been overflowing out of every pore, and it seems like it can’t get itself to stop. I really don’t have the attention to communicate with anyone but myself.

The double edged dilemmas of hiding, though, have a script all to themselves. From underneath blankets, in cold dark rooms, these dramas come out to the stage. They’re not limited in form, no. From the dingy corners of the mind, the produce stories you believed were long gone. The monsters you thought you had dealt with were only hiding, and now, they want to be seen, and felt, and heard and smelt. In one second its warm and in the next you’ve been swept up by your ankles and hung upside down, being reminded why its always been so familiar, this feeling of heart in mouth.

In hiding, you can hear all the sounds. In hiding, you can hear all your thoughts. In hiding – there is nowhere to hide. Sit, stand, sit, lean forward, then back. Lie down, maybe you need to. You can’t run anymore, so you may as well lie down. In hiding, you’re the hostage. In hiding, no one is coming to look for you. In hiding, you can’t be found. In hiding, no one will see.

You welcome this. You’ve been naked a long time and its the peak of winter. You remind yourself of the security of blankets. And when your skin gets hungry for the skin of another, you wrap her up in shawls that won’t leave you. The thickness of wool helps keep you from spilling over. But there is no alternative to spilling over. You’ve been spilling over from the day you were born. Spilling blood, spilling love, spilling pain, spilling self. You’re a woman in a man’s world. Your destiny is to spill over.

Better spill than contain. Better breathe than suffocate. Better be whole than not at all.

In hiding, you speaks to you. In hiding, you’ve started hearing the grumbles of your hunger. Not yet abiding, barely able to listen without being besides yourself in fear. In hiding, hunger tells you her story. Hunger, your continuous companion. But you have no imagination of continuity, only ruptures. And why not. In a world where hunger is your continuity, and nourishment comes only in ruptures, its no surprise you seek intimacies of the “bad” kind. You have no imagination of any other.

Hunger, like the lover that refuses to leave. Hunger, like the one that brings you to your knees. Hunger, pulling punches where it hurts most. Hunger, reminding you of the emptiness that will never be full. Hunger, that discards all your dignity. Hunger, that connects to mortality. Hunger, in anger’s robes. Hunger, that does not leave you alone.

I don’t know anymore to reach outwards. Right now, its baby steps inwards. Right now, I’m learning to feed me. Right now, I’m learning to hold me. Right now, I’m learning to touch me. Right now, I’m learning to know me. Right now, I’m trying to find a voice. Right now, I’m looking only for silence.

And then, sometimes, this cruel hunger – demands what she cannot have. And she demands it, and all the world stops. Everything stops, or maybe just me. I that gets stuck, like I’ve never known how to move. In hiding, no one makes you move. In hiding, you are stuck, as long as you want. In hiding, you try to escape. In hiding, sometimes, you even scream. No one is coming for you.

In hiding, you only have you.


My business is to create

“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s, I will not reason or compare, my business is to create” – William Blake

I was 13 when this quote first entered my life, and since then it has, time and again, given meaning to me in my darkest moments. At 13, with this quote, I was first introduced to this “other world”. In between my grief of losing a member of my family, and the pain of surviving in a family that was acutely in pain, this quote and the world around these words gave me hope. In Prithvi Cafe on those humid mornings and scorching afternoons, perhaps I glimpse a truth that I have tried to hold on to all these years. Those moments showed me that it was possible to relate to others deeply, that it was possible to fall in love and have others fall in love with you – with all the madness that it means. It showed me what collective energy looked and felt like, showed me that others were in pain too, and all of us were suffering together. Writing and theatre showed me that there is a way in which to truly and vulnerably express that suffering – to share it with the world, to listen when others share, to empathise with them, and hold their hands because sometimes thats all we can do.

All these years, I sought that energy again, and if I think about it like that – it makes sense that I have landed up where I did. Over the past few years, I had forgotten what it means to not “reason or compare”, and that made me suffer deeply. I judged myself for not having paid enough attention to my career, I compared with others and convinced myself that I had no skills to offer to the world, at times I tried to reason that this way of living was somehow “better” than others, in an attempt to understand why I have landed up where I have and to not feel it like a failure. In a system where friends find that their work and efforts and skills find gratification in the form of recognition and success and money, to have none of these made me feel like I had failed. Instead of continuing to have faith that “my business is to create”, I allowed myself to be “enslaved by another man’s (system)”.

I know how much I missed it – this energy of “creating”. I was at a tribal museum in Bhopal, surrounded by the beautiful and vulnerable and universal energy that I saw in everything they created – from their tools, to their shrines, to their homes, to their art. In that moment, I longed so deeply for that energy – to be one with the universe of creation. I felt jealous of these people who lived in a system in which this energy was available to them to tap into in every little thing they did with their day – whether they created food from the soil, or created art from stone, or created homes from clay. I felt angry and “enslaved” in this system, the one where I don’t create at all. Where all my work is – is managing other people, coordinating with other people, talking to other people, engaging with other people. Perhaps there are possibilities to create in this way too but they just weren’t coming to me.

Just a few days before this trip to Bhopal, we had a three day workshop within Nirantar. I was dreading this workshop with every cell in my body. At the time the space in Nirantar was alienating, excluding, hostile and made me anxious to be in it from a mile. But it was also the time that I had made a promise to myself, this is where I will be. Despite every reason and incentive to bail, to abandon ship and start over, there was a part of me that kept me rooted right here, to this place. Even on the worst day, I convinced myself I will try and do the best I can in the space that I have available, but that I will discipline myself into coming to this space, and be vulnerable to this space. During this workshop, I suddenly remembered being told about zentangles – this method of creating a particular kind of art – that is rooted as much in creativity as it is in discipline. Maybe all art forms are, come to think of it, but this one is explicitly so. The moment I started to feel anxious in the workshop, I reached out to a sketch pen and started drawing zentangle after zentangle. Everyone noticed what I was doing, they asked me, they were even perhaps irritated that I was doing this but I didn’t feel at all apologetic. I knew that I had to do this, and when I did, something happened. The negative anxious energy in me started to come out in a positive, creative and celebratory form. Maybe its as Einstien discovered, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another”. Slowly, I started to feel the difference in me. The space and the people around whom I couldn’t stand to be, suddenly I felt love for them, and I felt their acceptance of me. I felt like I could come to be in that space, and that space will come to have me.

This happened, and then the tribal museum the weekend after. I started to slowly become convinced of this lose idea that I was grappling with – that there is something about creative energy that has the potential to help us be and stay much more conscious of the world in and around us, and perhaps even transform it as we go along.

Create what? The task I have unwittingly committed to is a massive one. “Create a system” – a feminist system -“or be enslaved by another man’s” – yes the writing is on the wall. But how does one create a feminist system? When I was younger (can’t believe thats the term I use for when I was 18, but its true). I used to think creating a system meant creating a macro system. When I consumed all that delicious Marxism, and Leftist Idealism, I just knew that until the macro doesn’t change, the micro won’t either. When I went to a school for tribal children after my undergraduate, and took on the task of building thematic curriculum with them based on a Freirian pedagogy, I was disgusted with my work. I thought so little of it, thought it was wishy washy. I wanted to do what other friends were doing “research”, “policy” – big fat changes for adult people. What was this “working with children” thing anyway, so worthless. I wanted there to be agrarian reforms and economic reforms and healthcare reforms and environmental reforms – all at once – radically. I guess, I believed then that the only way to create a system is to destroy the other one, the one that exists.

At that time, I didn’t think much of myself as a “woman” or a “feminist”. I had a long journey to make from that moment on till the moment I would encounter Ursula, and she would help me make sense of this dilemma. So what is a system, UKL would ask me, I think, if we sat and spoke. Is this system a Utopia? What kind of utopia? And aren’t all utopia’s, perhaps by virtue of being “static”, a man’s system that can enslave all else in them? But UKL gives me an alternative too – a deeper, more spiritual alternative, rooted in a way of understanding the world that we have come to disregard in this current “system”.

“Every eutopia contains a dystopia, every dystopia contains a eutopia.


In the Yang-Yin symbol each half contains within it a portion of the other, signifying their complete interdependence and continual intermutability. The figure is static, but each half contains the seed of transformation. The symbol represents not a stasis but a process.

It may be useful to think of utopia in terms of this long-lived Chinese symbol, particularly if one is willing to forego the usual masculist assumption that yang is superior to yin, and instead consider the interdependence and intermutability of the two as the essential feature of the symbol.

Yang is male, bright, dry, hard, active, penetrating. Yin is female, dark, wet, easy, receptive, containing. Yang is control, Yin acceptance. They are great and equal powers; neither can exist alone, and each is always in process of becoming the other.”

-Ursula K le Guin

So perhaps that means that all that is creative is perhaps also destructive? That in creating a new system, bit by bit, you’re also destroying an older one? This feels much more approachable, and echoes much more the feelings in my heart.

Maybe what this also means is that what is destructive is also creative? I think I understand that too, which brings me to the final section of my stream of consciousness.

Its difficult to write about this and I don’t know where to start. So maybe I will start by introducing C again. C is, without doubt, my soulmate and my home. We met each other when we were 15-16, and soon after, we told each other that we were in love with each other. We were young and we didn’t know what these words really meant, I on my part was gripped by fear – I didn’t know what I wanted from my life, and to think that I was in love with this person and to know that I could see myself spending the rest of my life with him is a scary thought when you’re 16. I know he felt the same way, and I know he was afraid too. For many years – we danced around each other – experimenting with the boundaries of friendship. Together we created a language in which we could speak of all that made us feel vulnerable, anxious, afraid and human. Together we treaded the tightrope of intimacy, discovering each others bodies along with each other’s souls. The first six years that we knew each other, maybe we were in a “yin” kind of space. A space that was dark (yes without doubt), easy (in parts and moments, differently for the both of us), and most importantly of acceptance – of each other – as we were, and of the nature of our relationship – as it unfolded. 6  years later, we found ourselves in a different space. We chose to “penetrate” a certain boundary, we chose to be together, as a couple. Those years, by virtue of this commitment – were the “yang” years. These years were active in that we made an effort to be with each other, to fight through our differences. They were penetrating in that we dug into each other’s beings, we unearthed the very best and the very worst in each other. They were bright, in the moments of our togetherness, in the moments of our joy, in the moments in which we laughed together and the moments in which we cried together. But these years were also years of control – over each other, over ourselves in order to be with each other, over circumstances so that they may lead us to each other. The “yang” phase started almost exactly 6 years after the “yin” one, and almost exactly 6 years after that, we found within ourselves, the seed to destroy what we had created.

Its not easy to let go of something you have created with such love, such intensity, such investment, and yet, having faith in the process of “creating”, it felt like the right thing to do and both of us chose to walk back into friendship, into our own darkness, and into its acceptance. In destroying the way our relationship and we in it, have existed so far, are we also creating another way to be? A system that does not enslave one another? I really hope so.

What this phase has done for me, however, is that it has also simultaneously destroyed many of the assumptions about myself that I held close. It has destroyed in me any ‘utopias’ I may have had about how things should be, any ‘expectations’ about how I and others ought to be with each other. This destruction has helped me plunge into my own darkness -the “yin” energy – the one that according to UKL – is dark, wet, easy, receptive, accepting, and above all – female. Slowly it starts to feel like the most natural next step.

Inside of my darkness, among all other things, I have confronted another idea of ‘utopia’ that I had come to believe all these years. That it is not, as UKL identifies, “located not in the afterlife but just off the map, across the ocean, over the mountains, in the future, on another planet, a liveable yet unattainable elsewhere.” If utopia is a process, then its also a process that must happen here and now, in the present. If utopia is a process, then maybe it must transform the past, rather than abandon and distance from it.

All my life, I have run towards a utopia (perhaps, or definitely according to my dad). I can’t grudge myself for having run, because if I had not run far, I would not have found myself where I am now – where I am now which makes perfect sense because of what I seem to have been seeking since 13. But running towards this utopia has led me to realise that utopia is a process, has led me to realise it is both acceptance and control, that it is both creative and destructive. Coming to this realisation is deeply settling. It makes me stop running and learn to stand and breathe. It makes me need to stop and create, because perhaps you can’t create when you’re running. And most importantly, it makes me hopeful, that there is another way of being with my past, one that is accepting, and maybe some day, one that is healing.

A fortune teller once told my mother – that I will never live in Mumbai (the city of my birth and my childhood), and that I will most likely divorce – after marrying – the person that I love. It seems he also said that this “divorce” will be for the best for both of them. Here I am, in New Delhi, with a soul mate who is my best friend, and it feels like destiny has come to pass. Maybe this journey was written in my stars all along? And where do we go from here?

My father always asks this question, perhaps its pertinent here – “what is my role in all of this? am I only playing out my destiny? or do my actions have impact the direction my life will take?” To this, my mother always says that “Your destiny has brought you to this moment, your actions define where you will go next”. Is it that hers is an answer of acceptance and his of the need for control? Or is it that his is the question of acceptance, and hers is an answer of control? Maybe this is the yin-yang relationship I have grown up with, in which it is never really clear which one is the masculine and which one is the feminine – that they become each other interchangably – and their relationship signifies their interdependence and continual intermutability.

So here we are. And where are we going?

If I already had the answer to that question, all this would be pointless.

All I have are desires, hopes, dreams intertwined with fears, shame and low self worth. Is it that I want to control destiny, lead it to where I want it to go? Or is it that I want to accept destiny, even when it means something deeply painful? Or is it, as Thich Nhat Hahn says, that we need to “We accept others (or in my case destiny) as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.”?

As I complete this sentence, the thunder echoes around me and I am reminded of monstrous rainy nights in Mumbai, in my home, with my home, and all I can do now is have faith that one day I will come home to myself.

In love?

Remember the time you first felt it? The little funny feeling in your stomach, the little hazy feeling in your head, and that little place in your mind that was far away from reality, where the world was exactly the imperfect and beautiful place you wanted it to be.

It was the place, where it was safe to be so submissive, so not in control of yourself, that a look from across the classroom could make you melt to the floor, and that was alright. It was that place where you could shamelessly desire to spend every moment of your day with the other person, imagining how incapacitated you would be at hiding your joy if you bumped into them unexpectedly on the road. It was that place where you were vulnerable to reading into the slightest gesture, affectionate or hurtful, and obsess over it for an infinitely long period of time. It was the place that you ran to every free second you got. When you were around people, you had a consistent smile on your face to buy time in this place and avoid being dragged into conversation.

You thought this place was so private, so unique to your being and so intensely yours, that surely, no one else has ever felt this. You thought that if anyone else knew this place existed, they wouldn’t go about their days doing what they do, living as they live, being as they are. Surely, knowing that this place exists had magical transcendent powers.

And then the vase fell from the table and crashed on the floor, glass scattered and water spattered everywhere. Someone recognised your smile, said they knew it all too well, knew it was a passing phase and that you would get over it. In one swift move, the doors to this place slammed shut on your face, and you were left outside in the cold, in the big bad world, all alone.

Of course, you got over it. You toughened up to the world outside, you found strategies to cope, to pretend that this is the only world that existed, this other place was a juvenile creation of your imagination, it was fiction, a thing of books and films. You went so far as to smirk, or even blatantly laugh at others who found the place after you, breaking something in their hearts and adding an extra lock to your own slammed shut door.

Then one day, suddenly you woke up to find the door wide open. The sun felt brighter and the wind cooler and the world went about its business without bothering you, without shaking you out of the euphoria you felt when you realised you were standing at the door with someone, someone special. You held hands and walked into this place together, for the first time you allowed someone into this private,  intimate world. You allowed this person to mark their territory in your space, in your heart and mind and spirit, which led to a feeling so intense, so scary, so huge that you knew you had not felt this before.

You panicked. Ran amuck. Raised hell. Everything, anything to not feel/be in this place again. No! You know how this story ends, its too painful to go through again and again and again. Theres hurt and bloodshed and mess and noise. NO! This must end. “Go! Get out!”, you scream to the other person. “This was a mistake, I’m sorry, just please leave!”

Just like that, the door shuts again, and you’re too afraid to visit it, for weeks and months, maybe even years, you pass by that door and look the other way. You pretend theres nothing on the other side, or that its just a part of the wall, painted differently. Yet, as you go through your days, jaded and disillusioned, someone somewhere makes sounds in your heart, catches you unaware, off guard.

Now imagine living in this place. Physically building this place, with your own hands, with others, one brick at a time. Now imagine realising that the place is not yours alone, its not a private space but the most public one there is. Now imagine understanding that this is not only a personal space but a deeply political one. Imagine knowing that its worth fighting for. Imagine figuring out that the only way to open your door and keep it that way, is to open someone else’s.

Imagine reclaiming “love” from hallmark and rom-coms, from running around trees and choreographed dances. Imagine realising that to be in love is the most intensely bittersweet experience in your life, with pain that tears through your rib cage and joy that explodes in your lungs. Imagine sharing this, not with one, but with many. So many, so differently, so intensely.

And between the reality of closed doors and aspirations of open spaces is a struggle that defines the purpose of your life. And then you realise, that you were right, that if people truly knew this feeling, you would not exist as they do now.

Unworthy Mothers

My generation of girls were born
to unworthy mothers, 
women, artists, scientists, feminists,
almost human, as men
fools, that loved 
in it found strength 
not quite the same
as winning bread.
Women unguarded 
to all but themselves,
exchanging desires for whims
of others, who 
repeatedly, thanklessly,
took something 
away from them. 
Women knowing nothing
of pleasures, of power
or wealth
surrendering instead,
to nurture and care
as they forfeited the fortress of egos
it takes to be human. 
No, giving life isn't enough
a self-sacrificing person 
is no person at all. 
These women, our mothers, 
at the threshold of personhood,
denied to their mothers 
and the mothers before
turned it away 
because who did they 
think they were 
to be treated equally 
accept they're worthy.

Its not what mothers say
that sticks, its what they do, 
and who they are,
stays, like data in blood
so while they
and their naive faith,
almost had us believe
we were worthy 
when the moment arrived
to measure up to ourselves, 
We relied instantly 
on the data in our veins,
and found we weren't
that worthy after all,
because our mothers before 
hardly believed they were. 

If I could be honest

If I could be honest,
I'd tell you I was asleep
the whole time you knew me
all this while that you thought I knew,
I'd say it was all a lie 
I said to me and you.

If I could be honest,
I'd tell you I fear
that you see through me
and then I would let you
see me, not as I claim to be.

If I could be honest,
I would stumble over you,
speak in broken languages 
show you how little I know,
How little I am.

If I could be honest,
I'd would introduce you,
to every demon I've tried to fight.
and when you met them, 
I would honestly tell you,
Yep! That's a demon, alright!
and for a while I would sit with it,
have a beer for you to see,
how comfortable with my demons, 
I can pretend to be.

But if I could be honest,
then once the beer was done,
I would put my hand on the table,
and wrestle the demon's
till I was brought to my knees. 
And if I could be honest,
then when I lose,
I would accept defeat 
and let you know,
I don't have a choice, 
but to be back tomorrow.

Patching Up With Words

Words and I go way back. Back to when they were still just only in my head. Long endless sentences creating one story after another around and about me to keep me entertained, occupied. Words was my companion, my partner in crime, my love. Words and I, we saw it all together. First crushes and ensuing heartbreaks. Best friends lost and found. Alternative worlds discovered and aspired worlds experimented.  So long as we had each other, we needed no one. Not legs, not stomach.

Like all long term relationships, Words and my affair also waxed and waned. Moments of intense togetherness, discovery, emotion followed by moments of silence and separation. When Words and I were with other people, we didn’t need their bodies to make love to them. Their ideas were enough, their voice was enough. Words took care of the rest. The physicality of being was lost on Words. For them, the body was a distraction, an unnecessary one.

My recent falling out with Words, though, was not a part of the normal ebb and flow of our relationship. My recent falling out with Words came from a sense of betrayal, of being lied to, of feeling hostage to and powerless. You see, Words was all I consumed. I devoured them and on their part, they adapted to my every need, my every taste, my every whim and desire. Words would wear the Marxist hat or don the feminist robes or slide comfortably into fictional slacks.  Words and I needed each other so much, that we did everything to never let the other feel, or realise, they were not enough.

This whole time, the body, my own, other people’s, and just the materiality of the world we live in, was in the other room having a party. So many were invited to this party, so many came to this party. Everyone that came shared their common physicality – happy in the shared knowledge that they touched and were touched by the same things. This party was huge. Everyone was there and neither Words nor I found it worth our time. We went there, and smiled and waved at the others while we sat around in a corner, until we slyly slid away, back to reminding ourselves that the body was just a distraction. Words and I even organised our own little parties, with others who were like us. These usually looked very different. The only physicality that mattered in these was usually the form and frequency of caffeinated drinks.

Words and I were so close. Too close if you ask me. Words knew exactly what hurt, exactly what caused pain, exactly when to speak and exactly what to say. And Words was everywhere, in every space whether physical or mental or emotional or spiritual. I couldn’t understand if there was any difference – what if Words and I are the same person. I am all that Words is, and they are all that I am. Through all of this my body had had enough. My body had endured pain, neglect, hurt, solitude and shame at the hands of Words and now it was not going to sit there quietly.

When Body first started speaking, it was like a baby that shrieked when it was hungry, or wet, or cold or scared. It was always a shriek and you had to pay real careful attention to understand what the shriek was about. Unlike Words, it didn’t spell things out, it only made itself heard, made its presence felt. Words didn’t know what to do. Threatened with divided attention, Words made Body shriek more. Like an older child does to the younger new born, a sado-masochistic pleasure so instinctual no one understands it.

I reluctantly started tending to Body, still hoping to be done with it quickly so I could and go back to Words. Slowly though, I started to discover things with body that I had never experienced before. Body made me aware of the wind on my skin, of the dancing shadows of the leaves on the ground, of the dull red colour of brick. Body helped me find ‘things’ to love. Not in the way the words and I had always hated – you know. Not in the way of shiny purses and gameboys. It was more everyday than that. It was just the heightened awareness of the little purple wildflower along the path. An awareness of love, and happiness, and calm.

But also panic! I’m 25 years old! Why is this the first time I’m experiencing all this?! I summoned Words and I was furious. I demanded answers. Words had none. They hinted to when we had both decided that Body was a bother. Like a possessive best friend, they argued that we had everything we needed just the both of us, that Body was lying, seeking attention. I was not convinced. I shut Words out. Even though Words never left, they were no longer a part of everything. Every time Body shrieked, I shut the door before words could enter and distract me, or make it worse.

Words’ other lies crumbled too. The fact that they only spoke, mostly, in English. That they were inaccessible by so many people all over the world. People that I cared about, people that I wanted in my life. Body spoke a different language, so it seemed to communicate more unanimously. It wasn’t always coherent, but then, neither was the world. Words’ were a reminder of privilege, Body was a reminder of the opposite. Body was the reminder of shame. Shame, all consuming. Body and I battle with shame constantly. Body demands to feel it, I, reeling and tired and devastated, try to distract Body with a colourful toy. But through all of it, Body has my utmost attention.

Words lurks around the corner, joining me from time to time for a caffeinated drink. Words is careful when it speaks now, no longer changing dresses in youthful enthusiasm. Words has now tried to don a more sombre attire, its called Truth, Words’ tells me, its the latest fashion. Words is right. Even when it hurts, the truth will always be one that Words and I have shared. We might give up our childish game and invite Body to the party, or participate more enthusiastically in Body’s noisy gatherings, but Words will always be my companion, my partner in crime, my love.


“If I had a life ahead of me – I who am about to die – I would spend it telling this story, without ever stopping, a thousand times, so as to understand why truth gives itself over only to horror, and to arrive at it we have had to pass through this inferno, to see it we have had to destroy one another, to have it we have had to become ferocious beasts, to flush it out we have had to rack ourselves with pain. And to be true men we have had to die. Why? Why do things become true only in the grip of desperation? Who has turned the world around this way, so that the truth must be on the dark side, and the repulsive swamp of forsaken humanity is the only loathsome earth in which there grows the only thing that is not a lie? And in the end: What truth can this be, that stinks of corspes, and flourishes in blood, feeds on pain, and lives where man humiliates himself, and triumphs where man rots? Whose truth is this? Is this a truth for us? Back ashore, during those winters, I use to imagine a truth that was tranquility, womb, alleviation, mercy and sweetness.”

“This is what the womb of the sea has taught me. Those who have seen the truth will always be inconsolable. Only he who has never been in danger is really saved.”

“And what we have seen will remain in our eyes, what we have done will remain on our hands, what we have felt will remain in our souls. And forever, we who have known the truth, forever, we the children of horror, forever, we the veterans of the womb of the sea, forever, we the wise and the sagacious, forever – we shall be inconsolable. Inconsolable. Inconsolable”.

“A marvellous feeling. As when destiny finally shows its hand, and becomes a clear path, and an unequivocal trail, and a certain direction. The interminable moment of drawing near. That coming close. One would like it never to stop. The gesture of giving oneself over to destiny. Now that is an emotion. With no more dilemmas, no more untruths. Knowing where it lies. And attaining it. Whatever it may be, destiny.”

(Ocean Sea, Alessandro Baricco)