Hrishitonoy Dutta

Ambedkar University Delhi

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Our relationship and dynamics with the spaces we occupy are ever-evolving, sometimes even apathetic. Knowingly or unknowingly, each day is consumed by exchanges and negotiations, some deals we make and some deals are made by our non-human animal counterparts. But how do you engage with a space, with land, when it is as volatile as Spirit? How do you keep up with the inconsistent yet constant alterations? ‘It isn’t stealing if no one wants it’. But who decides what is unwanted? When we take over supposed wastelands inhabited by termites and other creatures & critters, is the land really unwanted? And when the termites make nests in books that were never opened anyway, are the books really unwanted? 

Our journey began in the library at Parijat Academy, where each subconscious negotiation became apparent to us, upon noticing the termites that occupied the wooden shelves and pulpy books. We wondered and put to test- Can the act of sitting and reading together show how interaction in these uncertain times can reveal something about us. Reading and growing together amidst a termite colony, one of the most tightly knit societies, both literally and figuratively, is all the more reason to do so.

When one reads the zine, they are actually interacting with a piece of the library, the pulp of the books that were eaten and the zine that would be eaten too. We learn to navigate our way into getting to know the students by picking up books ourselves. The act of reading together or taking a book makes the children come to us. Friendships were nurtured, nestled in a room that neither party had explored before- the library turned into a haven for us, just as it was for the termites paving their way through pulp. The revelations we had through the course of creating this zine are mainly owing to these very beginnings, coupled with our visits, with the students, to the Pothar. We sat with them, watched them play football and sometimes even tagged along when they went fishing. After about two months with them, suddenly during the end of December there was landfilling that was underway. This required that the rainfed ponds and swamps be drained; The city was growing…

Would the fish need to evolve into amphibians like we do, to keep up?

These exercises, we thought, could bring about a new dimensionality. What are the new meanings of the spaces created now?

Perhaps a lexicon (in the form of a zine) would reflect the time it was made in. To reflect both on the past and present that is liable to change, it reads like a record of instances.
Upon asking the students about how they feel about the ongoing landfilling and changing landscapes- what if you could not fish  or play in the field anymore, most students were uncertain. While a couple of them shrugged their shoulders with a slightly desolate ‘I don’t know’. One of the students countered the questions with what seemed like over optimistic solutions-alternatives to counter the dystopian unfortunate present.

This zine is to recall pieces of the library as it was the first point of contact. From ‘a’ watching to reading together with the other readers, the zine was made by using the memories of an endangered space; the precarious nature of such a space as a kind of belonging – the library being the locus of these conversations- Perhaps a necessary and a temporary consequence of the dizzying rate of progress

From reading of a nest to making our own nests with things found in the pothar*. Forms made of wire exist now within the wireframe of the website. While wires are supposed to support structures and maintain structural integrity, these wires that have recorded a fleeting memory of the Pothar are temporary and malleable.