Under Lockdown: The Intimate Politics of the Body

we are told to stay home. so, I am trying; to find a way
back into my body. a body can mean so many things:
a place to gather a whole life in, a place to fight to live in,
or just a place to call home. I retreat into the tidings

of my lungs, the cartography of skin. I scrape through memory
swept under muscle, or there, aching beneath a tendon. my nerves
jolt open into a chemical archive. the world passes through me,
a blue blaze in my belly. I listen to my heart. how it flutters

like a startled butterfly. I soften my hair, rub oils into my face,
feel the quiet sinews of life. at night, a warm rain rinses the city.
I sit by the window, my body carved from a dark, lucent night
and held gingerly by the rain.


the dead stack up like plates. every tragedy is about a body.
a body becoming a feeling. a country can mean so many things:
a place to live a life in. a place to fight to live in. a place to die in.
a highway can be a raw and dusty smear. an endless walk home

holding essentials like children, and water bottles and lives
wrapped up in burlap. a camera snaps. the dead stack up like plates.
horror arrives as if from a grey and dismal moon. it is alien
and somewhat damp. it doesn’t belong in our clean and airy houses.

so we stand in our teetering balconies and clap. the city goes dark.
the lamps waver in the wind like pale ghosts. we string up the lights.
every celebration is about a body. a body becoming a feeling.
a country can mean so many things.


‘when all of this ends,’ someone asks, ‘what will you do?’
when it ends, like a final full stop in a book, a heavy dot
finishing all the words before it. after that it is empty.
a blank snowy page; and then, infinity.

to think of endings is to imagine something new.
but there are no new ways to begin. not in this world,
not in our world, of inarticulate cement, old violence,
restless sleep and the hungry jaws of oceans.

time moves like a sluggish river, thick with clay
and bruises of light. the day ripples. my hair grows long.
when this is over, I will be alive. I will step into sunlight;
that blurt of joy. and then perhaps, I will get my hair cut.

when all of this is over.

Anagha Smrithi is a documentary filmmaker and scholar at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Featured image credit: J.R. Korpa/Unsplash