Terrain: Carrying Across Leaving Behind: Nilima Sheikh

17 November - 9 December 2017

A girl child abandoned lest, as prophesied, she grows up to find love outside her community, drifts down the river. A woman crosses a mountain river supported by an earthenware pot to meet her ‘illicit’ lover every night. These songs of doomed resistance, of Sassi, Sohni or Heer are still sung across Punjab, in India and Pakistan. A father beheads his young daughter, a preemptive act of ‘valour’ to save her ‘honour’ when South Asia was partitioned, carries the memory of her headless body across the border. Borders are girded, fortified with barbed-wire, fortifications within towns even, where embroiderers practice their age-old craft. The list of those who are made to disappear lengthens; those left behind find recourse in the language of mourning, and in resistance. Homes are left behind, carried across, forsaken, in search of love or acceptance and remembered in song, dream or nightmare. A young student battling the lifelong hatred that birth in a low caste Dalit family brought him, ends his stigmatized life as a final political act.


Inscribed across land and time the stories seek to lend each other new, cumulative language and contexts.

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