The doctor declared.
With unshaken, irreversible conviction.
The little, red, plastic cover
Lying loosely on the glass half-filled
With water, in the clinic smelling of antibiotics
Shook and trembled, every time
He placed his knowing hands
On the table.
“Parkinson’s”, he declared,

Turning through pages of codified test reports.
In my mind, half-filled with faith,
Prayers rose to the brim and spilled over.
“Let him take the words back.
Let speech be reversible.”


When my mother served me dal that afternoon for lunch,
I noticed how her trembling hands spilled
Some of the boiled lentils.
The floral, embroidered table-cloth
Handed down to her by her mother
Created some more patterns of fluids –
Traces that’ll remain even after the first wash.
I tried hard not to notice
How her face blanked out
As if her gaze can see through time;
Past, present, future – all permeable, penetrable –
In one directionless gaze.
While her limbs trembled
And the lines and twitches in her face were being wiped out,
Some nerve cells were dying too. Unnoticed.
With every passing minute,
Cells carrying memories were disappearing,
Every waking moment was becoming a testimony
To this violence of erasure,
While I recorded.
In pages after pages of journal and bad writing.
All her remaining memories
Racing against time.


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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.