This series of illustrations emerged from Gargi’s uncovering of a heritage that presided within the women of her family. Although intangible, and largely left unnamed, this shadowing anxiety bound her Aaji (Grandmother), Aai (Mother), Soudi (Souha, elder sister) and Gargi, each faced with consequent traumas and discoveries in their respective experiences. Despite trying to deny its existence, it hoisted itself with that much more fervour, and brought with it pain and also problematic yet recognisable benefits, according to Gargi.
HAS ITS ANCESTORS
I’m 25 years old.
An old family friend lives with me.
In its company,
I cut myself in privacy, and picked my lips in public.
Watching myself bleed was mere collateral damage.
I gave it
As for my generation-mate,
Soudi refused it access,
But it barged in midlife to demand its place in fate.
She abandoned it.
It accompanied my mother in denial,
for the lack of better options.
To this day she grapples with an alien that craves recognition,
only enraging it further.
She gave it dismission.
It accompanied my grandmother, mistaken as fear, mostly of losing.
She, who lost her childhood, her only possession,
Unaware of its insatiable consequences
Desperately tamed it, hoarding status and gold.
Aaji gave it a home, the way a woman is supposed to.
Aai concealed it out of existence, Soudi turned her back against it,
I embraced it with all its toxicity - the way a woman is supposed to.
Three generations worth of time to evolve, and it thrived.
I’d be wrong if I said it only provided trauma.
Be it at the cost of pain and sometimes blood,
It taught us,
It pushed us,
Over the edge, to sometimes land on a bridge.
(souha, elder sister)
Gargi Upadhyay, 25
Gargi Upadhyay (she/her) from Mumbai is a curiously concocted version of a poet, painter and singer. Currently she’s trying to find her rightful space in the art world. She illustrates hand-painted movie posters, as they truly combine her two major areas of interests. Melancholy is a frequent theme that crops up in her art, as it’s something that she’s comforted and also disturbed by. She believes in doodling as a movement in the history of art and is proud to be a part of it.
Aai sprinted through life.
Soudi traced the map
While I learnt to take over the wheel, and drive.
I drive so one day I can show Aaji around, and beam my lights on what Aai was hiding from,
So Soudi can see that the rain has gone.
I must, I did, I will use this heritage,
Grab it by its neck
To say, “No one else did but I see you now.”