Circumnavigating Rikers

We set off in the canoe around noon, at the mouth of a filthy creek in Queens, intent on circumnavigating Rikers Island, the largest prison complex in North America. It was an act of protest, a symbolic gesture, an allegorical feat, whatever you want to call it, but also an attempt, in a physical way, to get a grasp on what we were up against. We wanted to see the beast from all sides, to complete a loop, to call it a drawing, and to gesture toward the tens of thousands of souls locked inside—to see if it was even possible. Read more →

Good Fortune

Unfurled, it looks like a cartographic chart: a navigator’s map to travel the salty oceans, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back again. It’s horoscopic, rife with details about my future.

It is sweltering inside the tiny and cramped apartment in Mumbai. Outside the rusty barred windows, the thin bamboo trees sway gently in the scant breeze. The heat and humidity of the city are almost insufferable. My aunt K is carefully supervising dinner preparations in the tight galley kitchen. I savour the scent of cinnamon and cardamom as they hang in the air. Puris lie in wait in silver thalis, sweating under metal lids. My mouth waters. Read more →

Looking at Australia, Looking at Me

Although it looked small on a map, the extensive size of the Australian continent was coming into view. I had travelled to Australia to learn about the individual and societal impacts of inter-generational trauma that still linger from the 80-year forced migration of 162,000 convicts, including children as young as nine years old, who were imprisoned in chain gangs and on isolated housing estates. While learning about the brutality of the convict system, I tripped over the equally important and traumatic story of displacement and incarceration of Indigenous peoples. Read more →

Thin

We are landlocked creatures, and the birds know better. They teach us about lightness, coasting, and enjoying the in-between, as they hang on updrafts of wind, wingtips gripping the swells as they float— Read more →

Please Keep / Silent / Palms to the Sky

When you are seven, you will learn that a boy chooses dare over truth every time. Let’s play a game, they say, and you run your palms nervously down your key-lime shirt. The fabric sticks to your hands and stretches down—the dense, heavy fabric the early two-thousands were made from. All the boys talk about that one girl, Katrina—so wild she dared someone to lick honey off her giant boobs. Their eyes are jumping with the talk, flaming with a hunger you do not feel. They’ll dare themselves to kiss you. There are no rules to break, and you are your body but your body is not yours. Read more →

Tomatoes

In the evening courtyards of a beautiful city in Sicily, I surrendered my appetite. I discovered the crush of a ripe tomato, and I did so with my fingers before my tongue. I’m sure I was not the first to pick up the secrets of Syracuse tomato sauce in the dark. When I finally consumed it, licking my lips of tomato and wine, it was like kissing the hand of everyone at the table. Read more →