One year since my first big protest. This whole week I’ve been revisiting memories of that insane week, same time last year, when everything tipped over. I remember so clearly a conversation I had at home with my in-laws on 14 December, post which I rushed off to a protest. Partly because I intended to, but also very much fueled by the need to counter what I had endured in that conversation.
It set off a daily protest attendance habit in me for the week, for what felt like there was no end dat. I’d go off, spontyaneously as and when life allowed, making space, shuffling my schedule around to make my way to Townhall nearly every day. And then Jamia happened. 19 December was the unstoppable, big protest at Townhall. One that I remember viscerally. My body remembers the heady buss from shouting AZADI! rhythmically, the containment and safety of being ensconsed in a sea of citizens all on the same side of this fight, agitating calmly, doing the good work of sitting in protest, silently peacefully surrounded by cops in riot gear, chanting slogans with gusto, passing around bananas, drinking water, buttermilk. It’s all so fresh. I felt alive, like charged by a live wire.
This went on for nearly three times a week for me, every week till March when Covid shut us down and sent us home. Conveniently. And I remember feeling a heart-crushing disappointment in March this year. Sadness at seeing Shaheen Bagh being packed up and razed to the ground. This happened in the same week that I had tickets booked to visit, all on my own, all on a whim, a roundtrip single day trip to just witness the phenomenon.
It’s been a whole year since that day. A whole year since my politics erupted and stopped being something to hold in silence, politely in private. One full year of feeling every single day like events in our coutnry are bubbling and bubbling and leading up to a crescendo. One full year of a slow implosion. One full year of the full reveal on all the forces we are up against — a fascist government that thrives on hate and divisiveness, capitalism that has not had it’s fill, and a broken democracy that is still to be shattered some more. One full year of feeling like I don’t belong here at all. One full year of feeling like experiencing every.single.day (without the slightlest exaggeration) that this country is at seige with itsself, with forces that be, with it’s own fuckups.
And we fight on.