Monday, 28 October 2013


Oops, I did it again. Opening myself up to the endless comments of
you-look-much-nicer-with-hair and why-did-you-do-this and
are-you-depressed and and and ad nauseam. Sigh. To save you
the bother, here are my responses:

I know, and I don't care.
I don't know, and it doesn't matter.
All my life, what about you?

Sadly, most of the people who feel compelled to give me sartorial
advice do not read my blog.

I have not yet exactly pinpointed why I have this need to keep buzzing
my head. I had wanted to try it for some time, if only to make sure
that there was no 666 mark! Well, more realistically, to see if there
were any childhood scars that had been hidden (there weren't,
no physical ones, at any rate).

Then I saw Natalie Portman in that delicious film, V for Vendetta,
and that settled the matter.

All I know is that it somehow makes me feel powerful and
humble at the same time. It's incredibly freeing. It can be my shield
or my sword. It can work like a hijab or a big fucking billboard
that says "Go away."

It's also incredibly TIDY. I love not having to worry about how
my hair looks (it always looks the same, no cowlicks, no bed-head)
and when I'm sweeping, I never have to deal with strands of hair
around which dust bunnies form (unless friends or family visit;
they usually manage to leave behind a strand or two).

And it feels - in the literal sense - fantastic. There's something
exquisite about holding your freshly buzzed head in your hands,
letting your fingers run down your skull. Velvet in one direction,
velcro in the other.

Oh, and by the way, that story about Samson? Big fat lie.
I blame (but of course) patriarchy.

If only every woman would try it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Tomoyo and Tibet.

She looks fragile, but I don't think she is. Her skin seems
translucent, framed delicately by strands of soft, straight hair
that have fallen out of her ponytail. She speaks softly and gently,
but her words are purposeful and strong.

I see all of this in  her work. Each piece of Tomoyo Ihaya's
artwork is unique, and has been crafted with care and thought,
lovingly, to tell a story.

Although the story is one, it has over a hundred narrators:  the men
and women, the young and old, the mothers, fathers and children,
the friends, the monks. Each one a Tibetan who saw self-immolation
as the only way to protest the Chinese occupation of their home.

The ethereal texture of Tomoyo's work contrasts so starkly
with its dark, distressing subject. Perhaps that's what made it
sear itself into my mind and heart. It was hard to walk up to
each picture and look at it, and read the little pencilled captions
underneath. I read how old they were, and who they left behind.
It would have been easier to walk away.

I read of cruelties and injustices. I read of their last words,
and their last moments. It was painful, but, I felt, vital for me
to visit each and every person represented there. It was important
for me to put my fears and discomforts aside, and pay my respects.

Sometimes, I do this in graveyards:  every tombstone I pass, I say
the name out loud, imagining that there is a soul stirring somewhere
at the once-familiar sound, who finds some comfort in knowing that
their name is still on someone's lips, if only a sympathetic stranger's.

I do this because of a movie I watched earlier this year, in which
a dying woman tells her friend:  We die three times. The first
is when you take your last breath. The second is when your body
turns to dust. But the final death is when your name is spoken
for the last time.

Those 126 Tibetans are gone. Their evidence stolen away and
hidden, their headlines muffled, and the world could easily go
on its way as though they had never existed.

But Tomoyo speaks their names. She speaks their names with
the beauty, skill and gift of her art, and draws me in, making it
easier for me to look at the things I would rather hide from,
holding my hand as I walk past the tombstones.

Her work is showing at 1 Shanthi Road, and today is the last day.
Don't turn away. Don't close your eyes. Your soul needs it. And
so do theirs. Go on up there and take her hand.

Post script:  After I finished writing this, I came across another piece 
on Tomoyo, beautifully written by Sudha Pillai. Click here to read it.

Not so depressed doodle.

Not depressed on my part, that is. Although the lady in the picture
doesn't look very pleased with herself, in spite of owning
that magnificent bosom.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Another random depressed doodle.

And here's another, no doubt from the same era. I think I was
being a bit cynical with the saccharine twirly "bloom where
you're planted" cliche, because that whole doodle with the scrawl
and barbed wire and wall screams "TRAPPED!" to me. But the sky's
full of stars, and the earth full of what might be badly-drawn earthworms,
so it's not an entirely hopeless doodle. Unlike my dress sense.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Random depressed doodle

Found this while going through an old notebook from last year. 
Given that I still feel a lot like this most of the time, it would appear 
I haven't made much progress on the self-nurturing front. So much 
for years of therapy.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A need to bleed.

We are the animals in the circus, the gladiators in the arena.
We cut ourselves open, and they applaud.
We bleed, and they throw coins.

Every act of creation calls for blood.

The bringing forth of what has been growing within us.
The birthing only possible with pain.
The need to hear an appreciate voice cry out,  
It’s a boy! It’s a girl! It’s a poem, a story, a song!

We who create have a need to bleed, and a need to let the world watch.

Some of us bleed through pens and pencils, some through colour and clay.
Some through texture, or numbers, or with wood, leather and string.
Some of us, our voices bleed, or our arms and legs as they move
through space. Mothers bleed, and some never stop bleeding.

We who create, bleed, and all blood flow starts from the heart.