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Outrun - Urvashi Bahuguna

I hope it goes some way in demystifing invisible illness, that it shines a light on how little we know about the people around us because there is so much that we don’t talk about, that it is frowned upon to talk about, and that it reinforces the need to be better to people around us. I hope people can see how illness permeates each facet of one’s life. I hope it pushes people to read more on these illnesses, to educate themselves. But, mostly, I hope more people speak and write about their experiences – there’s a whole world of different experiences with mental illness in India that we need to hear about. - Urvashi Bahuguna in an interview about her debut collection of poetry, “Terrarium”. Reading about the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput today, I wanted to share with you poetry that speaks uninhibitedly and without apology to the unspeakable experience of mental illness and depression. I read Urvashi Bahuguna’s collection of poems while surveying the artwork on display at the Kochi Biennale. I remember reading her words on loneliness and “a scream caught in the chest” sitting by the sea at Fort Kochi, feeling gratitude for the directness and patience with which she outlined such universally felt emotions, even the experience of being alone. Her other poems talk of the importance of female friendships, about sharing experience and behind the words of the poems that address depresssion head-on, I can hear the work of coping, of learning its contours. The world of her poems, however, is populated by people - friends, family, lovers, perhaps. Even in the creation of the book, there is the acknowledgement of friends and the community of poets, writers, and editors who helped make it happen. In this swell of comradeship, I can feel a strong undercurrent of gratitude. even for an ear. A line from “The meaning of family” (I just realised that one of my own poems has the same title! Then I wondered if all poets wrote a poem about the meaning of family) sticks with me today - “How to prove to you this is a life worth living.”

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