Vanishing point

I’m lying in bed.
It’s a scorching afternoon in mid-May.
My aunt has drawn the curtains
To block the sun.
But its resilience keeps peeping through the thick, white fabric
Creating patterns of shadow on the ceiling.
I look at the smoke of the incense she has burnt
Before she has tucked me into bed for an afternoon siesta.
I am eight years old.
I am still looking for god

Still looking for signs and miracles
Still collecting scraps of paper,
Used bus tickets,
Treating paint brushes as sacred,
Painting with water colour,
Sticking them on walls,
Smelling my mother’s towels,
And feeling content that I exist.


I follow the smoke’s trajectory.
It starts right from the tip of the burning incense
Then rises towards the direction of the light breeze
Then it makes a couple of spiraling moves.
And the higher it rises,
The thinner it grows.
The thinner it grows,
The closer it gets to disappearance.
The closer it gets to disappearance,
The faster it is replaced.
By newer strands of spiraling smoke
Growing out of the tip of the burning ember.

The room is bathed in lines of shadow and light,
In the smells of rituals of long ago.
I stealthily look out of my blanket.
I stare.
I smell.
I feel.
I absorb.
I fear.
The disappearance.
The tranquility.
The patterns of light and smoke
That will disappear as soon as I sleep.
I close my eyes.
I lock them up.
I fear.
The patterns of light and smoke will disappear
As soon as I am. Awake.


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Sukanya Thumbnail I am an artist-scholar and Assistant Professor in Theatre Studies at the School of Theatre and Dance, San Francisco State University. I received my doctoral degree in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford in June 2016. My dissertation, completed under the guidance of Dr. Jisha Menon, was awarded the Charles R. Lyons Memorial Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. My research project was supported by the Graduate Research Opportunities Award in Stanford, which facilitated my fieldwork in India and Bangladesh during the summer of 2013 and 2014; and the Wisch Fellowship by the Center for South Asia, Stanford University, for my work in South Asian theater and performance studies. My training and specialization are in the area of oral history; postcolonial and ethnic studies (with a focus on South Asian performance studies); ethnomusicology; dramatic literature; transcultural theater and performance; experimental devised performances; and community-based performance-making.


It would be wonderful to hear back from you, and you can always reach me via email.

Sukanya C.