Resting in the Resistance of Poetry

Curator’s note

In this poetry series, I have attempted to explore the relationship I share with poetry. I find poetry to be a catalyst for making one feel wholly, for evoking powerful emotions, which can incite wonder, understanding, rage and empathy – all alike. While poetry has allowed me the space to often sit with my anger and my helplessness, it has also, almost always, provided me comfort when I feel powerless in the light of the workings of the world, it has nudged me towards cathartic revelations and sensory healing.  

In experimenting with reading and writing varied forms of poetry, one could find themselves equipped with a meaning making wordsome toolkit. I engage with my poetic craft as a thought vehicle – to aid me navigate the world around me, poetic traditions, and originality. A fair deal of mind wandering and acute observation too, could come together to expand experiences from emotion to poetry. In the craft of poetry, we could perhaps find for ourselves the strength to participate in a world that otherwise gets dreary and posits itself as a hopeless, apathetic place as now. In this regard, writing poetry also becomes a potent means of resistance. 

“A poem is not just words placed on a line. It’s a cloth. Mahmoud Darwish wanted to build his home, his exile, from all the words in the world. I weave my poems with my veins. I want to build a poem like a solid home, but hopefully not with my bones.”
Mosab Abu Toha, from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza; Palestine A-Z (via)

Jerin Anne Jacob




I try to care softly and

chew this everyday gloom

to churn poetry


This poetry that seeks 

to sound up living into

a dreary night


A glumpy brainscape

finds its meandering way to

a lavender siesta


Only rummaging through 

words to sense-make

solicits my many ways of being


Of a mellow usher

into a gentle undercover

which boils acceptance


In a valiant stride

that belongs to the unsteady

and sought even times


What I lost to apathy

I shame through in mirroring

a poetry of lost chance




She wants to tint the hurt of this world

and oust it into deep living, to celebrate its art –

its tender multiplicity,

but she disobeys the language of colours

and dabbles in amber hues, shearing sun-

wreaths on a spherical melancholy.


Breaching greys shed okayish warmth

through yonder horizons of hopeful

spells. Generous tippings of gold fire

that is poured over the world by 

thrones jesting with power.


Casually caring in dormant ink

links you to your kindren 

bellowing in lack and less.

How do you breathe with stolen joy?


A sun-plant field arises to follow

the ache in the sky, rife in its juvenile memory

only to shower the world with kaleidoscopic sundalas


I am a poet and I read the world in metaphor.




As the day closes, I melt into a touch-me-not 

Stretched out raw on a page netted cot.


Thinking of a closeted hierarchy of words

In a poetic arc of realisation

I sing them in a word spread

Many times in lone attempt,


muting my screams amid

resounding warplanes

folding away my people 


Gently caressing the worth of my stride,

Poetry seeks my communion and doodles itself 


Inward erasure


Onto a heaving journal entry.




Oh Poetry! To you I bring in the low lying 

Anger that pinches into the dread of the day.

In joining the world around as 

A communion of beings, not a collection of objects.


I move through the world in fragments

Tripping over parts of myself along the way


Survive a luxury and humankind,

A kind beauty that is wrong in its yearning

While privileged to art an active meditation –

Syncing in the crime that puts these crying stories to sleep.


At last, when the air is easy and the light is cool

This tribute we raise to your compassion,

Your reigning solitude.




In stretching a strained memory

inside out, and lying it to dry awake,

I am threatened to see 

a waterfall lurking 

in between these lines that smell of rest.


They disappear clean as I read 

in a uniform motion that surrenders 

the terror in my heart, a solid.


Where does peace dwell?


As the mist rises and the aquatic 

sensation thrives, I am pumped by the green 

inside me, shaping forms that read like 

warm letters on the stream bed.

What would a world without oppression make you?



Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice

3 Questions from SAHELI’s ‘Building a Brighter Future’ panel

At One Future Collective, our work is based on developing the leadership capacities of people and communities, towards enabling them to access their rights. Participating in conversations that centre key communities needing, and capable of propelling, structural change are therefore crucial in our journey to nurturing social justice leadership. 

Our founder and CEO, Vandita Morarka, was a panelist on a panel titled ‘Building a brighter future: How do we empower young girls in our society?’. This panel was hosted by the Navi Mumbai Hub of the Global Shapers Community for their project SAHELI, and Teach for India, on September 16, 2023. 

To learn more about the specific objectives of this panel, and to get to know the panelists alongside Vandita, visit here

For a recording of the panel on YouTube, watch here

The panel discussed the importance of preserving the choices of young girls, approaching the issue of agency resulting from education and employment with nuance, how the patriarchy is upheld in the everyday, such as through the ‘tabooing’ of menstruation. Read below to learn about our key lessons from this series.


  • What does the patriarchy have to do with it?

Opening the conversation, panelist Prabha Vilas, founder and CEO of Work for Equality, discussed, with statistical evidence, the ‘double challenge’ of gender- and caste-based discrimination she faced in her journey as a first generation learner from a marginalised background. Panelist Samrudhi, who is a student working with Work for Equality, illustrated patriarchal oppression in the home in both rural and urban contexts through restrictions on women’s mobility and access to choice. Radhika Dhingra, founder of Badlaav Social Reform Foundation, further discussed how the patriarchy informs the physical, emotional and socio-cultural impact of menstruation on young women, leading to poor self-image, reduced self-confidence and physical and social mobility (through education and employment outcomes) for them. Vandita agreed, adding that oppression has multiple, changing agents – family members, caste groups, etc. The complex nature of power, she noted, can make it so that a group that may be marginalised in its own communities can be oppressive to others, stating the example of women from oppressor castes, who can perpetuate oppression not only to men and women from oppressed castes but also within their own families, to younger women. They also highlighted how patriarchal and other oppression need not always be active – sometimes, even the silence or inaction of those in positions of power can lead to continued oppression. They also gave examples of ‘patriarchy in small things’. 


  • Who are the key stakeholders in this process?

Through the discussion, the panelists identified three main stakeholder categories in the process of building a future for young girls: systems, communities, and the self. Vandita outlined this difference as being one of impact –  while personal reflection and growth in understanding one’s rights and the processes of accessing them is important, ‘no amount of personal training can change a system’. 

Prabha also highlighted the role of governments as an institution which are crucial to empowering young girls. Are policies written only on paper, or are they also executed for people? They stressed the importance of girl-led, girl-centered advocacy to improve how systems and communities see and engage with women – do people really want young girls to do better, if they are uncomfortable at the idea of women actually doing better and becoming ‘too’ loud, ‘too’ educated, occupying ‘too much’ space?

Vandita underscored the role of communities like families in building ecosystems of support around young girls – their experiences do not need to be understood in order to stand by them, ensure that their trust isn’t violated, and preserve their agency over their own bodies and circumstances. They also called the home the ‘last barrier’, and spotlighted One Future Collective’s Ghar Ki Baat campaign. 

Samrudhi discussed the role of the self in future-building – ‘No one will listen to us, unless we speak!’ She also highlighted the importance of building identities for the self and for one’s communities over time. Prabha agreed, talking about young girls traversing the journey from, ‘What can I do?’ to ‘I can do anything!’ 


  • What levels does change need to be actioned at?

Apart from the changes needed from the stakeholder categories identified above, the panelists also stressed the importance of changing our priorities in the conversation around social justice. 

Vandita talked about the role and space for men and boys in such future-building: they talked about how programs that engage men to address the harm done to them by patriarchal systems need to be differentiated from those for young girls and other gender minorities. Finally, they shared that the conversations around ‘including’ men in agenda setting for the empowerment of young women should focus on the need for men to be comfortable with letting go of power. If there is a fear of men having less power as a result of women having more, Vandita asked, then is it really about empowering women? Can more seats not be built around the table, if there aren’t enough?       

Radhika talked about the need for naming our taboos and confronting what about a subject makes it taboo. Similarly, Prabha expressed anger at the prescriptions communities and systems place on young girls like their behaviour, actions, attitudes, appearance – for young girls to reflect on their conditions and organise for action, they must have access to spaces that nurture radical thought and reflections on changework. Samrudhi shared how Work for Equality creates such spaces.  


What are your key questions when building a future for young girls?

Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice

Growing up on the other side of Childhood

                                 mummy, you once said that all things have their place in this world: 

                bicycle wheels spinning aimlessly in the afternoon sun, 

         &  raindrops,

                        giving up the sky just to get soaked in somebody’s old shirt,

even the house flies hatching all over the kitchen in december, not 

                   knowing that their first winter will also be their 


Anushka Nagarmath


  mummy, you once said that all things have their place in the world:

                          even my hands,  

pricking themselves over the fuzzy blades of the summer grass, 

                          thumbnails freshly broken from being crammed between 

my teeth all morning, still not 

                  knowing how to touch anything without hurting it,

                                                                                    even my own body

mummy, as a baby, it only 

                                        took me three months to uncurl my fingers &

                       grasp                             the shiny hoops 

                            dangling down the side of your face —

                 the universe began inside your hollowed earlobes

                                   &  i stretched it between my thumb & pinky   

            until it came to an end 

                                                 right below your chin

i remember you, pulling

                               my hands apart & putting them back

       together the right away,

                                              around the long neck of a pencil,

                & the button nose of the periwinkles,

until i could make enough room

                                   to hold the compass of your palm,

the long needle of your index finger

                             always pointing home

 mummy, these days, i stare at the wingspan of my fingers

               & wonder how much force it takes to catch

                                                                          a beetle, without crushing its soft skull                                

at school, the boys tussle in the corridors, knocking elbows against jaws,

        sticking out legs, tumbling to the ground 

                       but here, there are no apologies, only laughter —

how does it feel to grasp someone else’s knuckles 

                                               as easily as grasping the soap suds in the bathwater?

              these days, i hold my wrists under the tap until the skin

        prunes & wrinkles,

                                  until i can imagine them brushing

through the hair of the girl who sits in front of me 

                                                     without doing any harm   


mummy, do you think seashells deserve to be scooped into the softness 

                   of a toddler’s palms,

                            even with all their sharp corners?

i spent all of yesterday licking my hands clean 

                              of the stickiness 

        of the lollipops i stole 

                                        from the kitchen drawers,

sucking on the crookedness

                               of my thumbs, so they could turn warm &

mellow, like an apology 

             mummy, i am trying to only reach for what is allowed

                                  i am trying to open my fists fully, like

                          flowers, so easily


                 & hold them out for praise           

but my fingers, like spiders, 

                so easily spooked

                                                    scurry back into my pockets,


mummy, will my hands still be my hands when

                                                                 i undo the knots of her braid? will you still

rub vaseline on them when it gets really cold? 

                              i know the truth: there is no coming back from touch 

but we try   

at lunch, the girls sit in a circle and draw shapes on each other’s backs, 

             here: a star. here: a cloud. here: a butterfly

 here: a house with four windows that we will live in some day. 

               once, someone asked me to step in through the door. once, someone made me tea

                              & the teachers laughed when they saw us sipping at empty cups

            & told us to make the most of this while we still believed in it 

but what if i will always find myself in the outline of that house 

                           framed by someone else’s fingers? 

mummy, i am scared of all the things i might never outgrow 

Mapping and negotiating power

Uncuff India Episode 10: Dimensions of conflict and peace: visioning a utopian world

Uncuff India Episode 9: Civic space and dissent: A pathway to social justice