I took this particular photograph on the 18th of January, 2020. On that day, my pelvis ultrasound scan report came out and it was found that I had cysts in my ovary. This unwanted thing growing inside me had been the cause of my frequent mood swings.
From the hospital, I went straight to Shaheen Bagh. It is a prominently Muslim neighbourhood in South-East Delhi where hundreds of Muslim women were fighting against a newly introduced draconian legislation by the central government which could be potentially used to harm Muslim lives in the country. I could not help but see it as a reflection of what was happening to my body.
I wandered around the locality, witnessing how the entire neighborhood projected the disagreement of its residents. The walls of Shaheen Bagh were covered with graffiti, an enduring tool of dissent. They stood out as a palpable demonstration of a defiant struggle, a non-violent creative movement led by women against fascist forces.
The women from across the country who came together to protect the idea of India were well-aware of the lathis, tear gas shells, and reactionary goons. They knew the chances of them being labeled jihadis and anti-nationals were quite high. Still, they refused to bow down. They wrote on the walls, painted on the bricks, came out into the streets They used graffiti and non-violent sit-ins as peaceful methods of protest, as a way to resist and express their discontents against government policy.
I occupy a position of privilege in Indian society and the issues that these women are grappling with might not affect me personally but I remember the words of Nina Simone: “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”
I hope this photo speaks for itself just like the graffiti it depicts, becoming a testament to the recalcitrant struggle of these extraordinarily unique women.