The Mutterings of Dissent

How do you survive fascism on the streets when you experience oppression in the sheets?

Muskaan, Managing Editor

Artwork by Neel Ghaghada


There is a reason we call the right to protest a democratic one, one supposed to be within the reach of people. There is a reason we call the right to co-exist without discrimination, a human right.


We need to talk about the consequences of polarity in the politics of the nation. We need to talk about the consequences of young activists getting arrested and the threat it poses on the spirit of democratic vision of other young activists. We need to talk about the conversations that take place in homes when one steps out for protests. We need to talk about what happens when they go missing. We need to talk about what happens when they get jailed without trial. We need to talk about the conversations that take place between peers, neighbors, the community when they are speculating reasons, when they are making sense of a certain loss. We need to define what is “anti-national” -- is it me asking questions and caring about human rights? We need to talk about the consequences of the Godi media producing and issuing words that are not just discriminatory, but a puncture in the wheel of secularism. We need to talk about how to react when a 15 year old child calls a Sikh person a “Khalistani”, a Muslim person a “Pakistani” and/or “terrorist” and other casteist connotations that I do not have in me to write in quotes. How do we educate a child without educating the parents? Can we teach empathy to adults? How do you teach someone to care about others beyond their community spheres, how do you teach humanity?


We need to talk about what happens when a young adult talks of their ideas and dreams of a socialist world on the internet. We need to talk about what makes the internet the safest space for so many of us. We also need to talk about the betrayal one experiences when they get arrested for tweets and when reporting accounts get banned. We need to talk about restorative justice; but first, we need to talk about this puncture in the existing system of justice and how we reached here in 2021.


Pre-pandemic was a better time for this country. Not that the things happening today, were not happening back then. We were very well sinking, drowning, gasping for one single breath of peace and democracy.


What changed?


We lost our ability to grieve in communities, we lost our space to hold each other in our comradeship. We lost the access to grieve the “normalcy” created by the State.


Now, we co-exist with the hate we can’t bear. Now, we find ways to educate every minute of every day. Because if we don’t, we feel guilt, agony, and a grave sense of incompetency.

On an average day, we would go to college, find safety in knowing there was ONE space we could go back to, no matter what happened back at home. One space we could claim the ideals we wish for. One space where we acknowledge in full solidarity that patriarchy, caste-atrocities, politics of hate around layers of identity exist. Tell me if you have that space anymore. We wear masks outside to save face from coming out to the world as disgruntled citizens. However, we don’t wear masks at home. When we switch off our laptops, we have no option but to go back to the world we despise. Now, we don’t have the comfort of de-roling from our worldviews and value systems when boarding the train to Santacruz. Now, we co-exist with the hate we can’t bear. Now, we find ways to educate every minute of every day. Because if we don’t, we feel guilt, agony, and a grave sense of incompetency. Why am I shouting on the internet to people I may never meet? I cannot possibly visibilize my outrage at home. I cannot possibly visibilize my grief. I cannot possibly mention how much it shakes me, how much the reality of this nation is closest to my own home. I cannot possibly show the disgrace I truly have. I cannot possibly visibilize my resistance.


But I resist.


We build walls now, not boundaries. Sometimes, we try to reach beyond but all attempts go in vain. We need to talk about how we are simply stuck on the magnet of two poles. One, being bigotry and the disdaining “otherization” of the marginalized. The second pole is nothing but piled up, irrecoverable alienation; alienation from friends who loved you and family that you loved; from pockets and spaces you only expected inclusion, respect and kindness.


I wonder what is not understood about grieving people dying. What is not understood about losing trust in the country I was taught to only find pride in? What is not understood about the feeling of betrayal this home has given me? The home I was told to grow “empathy” in, the home where I was told to be kind and humane. We need to talk about why this home is not a safe space for you and me. We need to talk about how even in our privilege of knowing the language and vocabulary to read and write about this misery, we simply cannot navigate a way around it.


But we continue to resist.


When my queerness is wrapped every night in my blanket with me, when the sorrow I feel every day is wrapped in my blanket with me, when the collective hurt I acknowledge from spaces all across the country; I ask, where do I go with this blanket? Can I go back to college? Can we please go back to the time when it was convenient to mask my politics and continue saying “Yes, sir”, to continue showing you how I truly believe you every time you tell me that politics is not for women because it is “dirty”. Can we go back to the time when I was okay with you believing I was a “woman” who could not deal with dirty? Can we go back to the time when we let you have the deal with accumulating the dirty? Can we go back to when you and I could sit across each other and be okay with your patriarchal control over my body, wrapped in the blanket; wrapped in disgust, but wrapped?


But I shall continue to resist.


Most of this trauma we survive is never mistakes, never the unconscious, never the karma. It is the product of propaganda pushed to a point where your small hurts cannot take residence in any shape or form.

No, I cannot choose to agree to disagree anymore. So can we just, for once and for all, uncurtain these blinders? Can I blame you once, twice, maybe some more? I want to believe you are more than the bigotry you wear. You are more than your politics. You are a human. You consume the media brought to you by crony capitalists, by speakers who haven’t known ethical reporting, from sources intangible, from irresponsibly used vocabulary and amongst politicians selling off religious sentiment to you and those around you. You grew up with your father telling you what to wear and how to be a woman, so I suppose I cannot expect you to know me beyond my fem-ways. You grew up with enough trauma to call it the way you do I suppose. I suppose. I suppose. I suppose you are not all bad. Can you not suppose the same for me?


We need to have conversations about what happens when a young student tells the world what they believe in and all they get is the wrenching horror of control. Controlling dissent starts at home: when they tell you what you can and cannot do, when they control your body and your thoughts because they control the resources. Trauma starts at home, and is institutionalized. Most of this trauma we survive is never mistakes, never the unconscious, never the karma. It is the product of propaganda pushed to a point where your small hurts cannot take residence in any shape or form. There is no space for your grief, for your anger and for your humanity.


I resist.



Muskaan is a BA student at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, pursuing psychology and sociology. They are a strong advocate for mental health and its intersectionality. They believe that kindness and compassion, poetry and words have the power to change the world. They hope to build a career around inclusive policy development of mental healthcare. You can find their writings and poetry on @tacitphrases. Their Instagram handle is @muskaaanp_.

Email: muskaanpalod00@gmail.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/muskaan-palod

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