By Anna Ruddock in The Socialogical Review.
I am beginning this on a bad day. Not the worst kind of bad day – I am, after all, typing, and therefore thinking, albeit slowly, sludgily. How to describe this? Each time I try, I express it differently. Today it is as though my brain is a cautious thing; a wounded animal wary of further injury. It looks through my eyes, resting on individual objects, pausing for breath. Draped over the back of the chair beneath the open window is the kurta I wore yesterday. It is chikan – the style of embroidery unique to Lucknow, North India’s city of poetry and kababs and political violence. My brain is transfixed by the wide-petalled flowers sewn with thick red thread into white cotton that glows in the light from the window.
I wore the kurta yesterday, when I was moved to see a young man having his photo taken as he stretched to touch the foot of an enormous statue of the Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar. The image felt particularly potent coming as it did a few days before the Uttar Pradesh election results, which some feared will deliver India’s most populous state into the hands of its Hindu majoritarian central government (as indeed came to pass).
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