uprising

dat_new_13

we were swimming then
already in the dead

sea this year
when i noticed

salt welling a thousand
invisible cuts

in the body: angry
flowers, resisting

against ceilings
of skin – a mourning

can also mean to
rise, turn the egg

belly up, reveal
its swollen sun

struggling to breathe
under fire.

 

Photograph by Nydia Blas, “Untitled” from Fire.

colorless campus

NYU Abu Dhabi is one of the few university campuses in the world that is still operating. Many students and staff still remain on campus, while struggling to stay safe, retain a sense of community and safeguard both individual and community health. Both the editors of this magazine are part of this community. The following images document, subtly, the emotional and psychological impacts on young students whose lives have been interrupted by the looming virus, as the numbers of cases climb daily by the hundreds. NYUAD is also one of the most diverse campuses in the world; travel restrictions and other realities created by the pandemic, affect various students to different extents. What unites us is the common experience of uncertainty and that we are all somehow still in this space, together.

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“I check reported cases daily. I have tabs full of articles open, I know all these facts. I was just reading these diaries from Wuhan before you came over. “
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“I stayed up watching anime for six hours”
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“It’s my last one – fuck it.”  (shot over Zoom)
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“My family’s in Jordan. They’re okay. But a lot of people back home rely on daily wages so the lockdown really affects them. I had never really thought about that before. It makes me feel so bad.”
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“They cancelled my flight back home. I don’t know where I’m going to be, really.”
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“I look outside to see who’s not wearing a mask.”
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The big questions on our minds: is it going to come to campus? What will happen to the borders?
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“I’ve been drinking instant coffee every day five minutes after waking up for a zoom class.” “You need to stop doing that, that’s sad.”
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“I literally played Subway Surfers for two hours straight. Nothing else! This is terrible. My work!”
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My thesis project is all about migration, movement, And suddenly, the whole world’s stopped moving. 
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“I’m just going for a smoke with my dinner. This is the highlight of my day.”
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“My immune system is crap. I can’t take a single risk.”
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“I’m good. I stay inside watching movies on my ceiling.”
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There’s something really comforting about laundry machines. The soft, rhythmic whirr, the promise of warm, clean sheets. To help me sleep at night, I listen to a sleepcast on the Headspace app, called  Midnight Laundry.
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“There’s a big sticky note on my doorknob saying BARBIJO. It means mask in Spanish, so that I never forget.”
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My photography professor asked me: why the fixation with black and white? But that’s how everything feels rights now, I told her. Colorless.
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It’s funny how the whole world suddenly understands this feeling of being cramped up and staying in bed and having life reduced down to the smallest tasks, like washing your hair. Everyone’s just trying to manage and do the bare minimum. It’s like all of a sudden they understand a lifestyle that I’ve known for so long. Having depression interrupted so many things for me before; it’s almost like I feel prepared for this. The difference is now more people understand.
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I bought an orchid plant at the beginning of senior year and named her Lizzo. She just started blooming again. Sometimes, that fact of her unfurling, again, is the only thing that manages to cut through the fog in my head.
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My parents are everything to me. They urged me to come here. I just wanted them to be here when I graduated. I wanted to see the pride and happiness on their faces, and take pictures under the palm trees in my gown and cap.
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“Theater students have had to take their capstone projects online. We can’t perform them. I’m full of loss and questions.”
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I guess life is monotonous. I don’t do much.
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We ended a while ago. It’s been months. I don’t know why every morning, after scrolling over updates for the UAE, I still check the number of cases where he lives.
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My dad sends me daily GIFs on messenger, usually of animals or cartoons doing weird dances. I forward them to my roommate and we get a good laugh. 
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I’ve started deep listening to albums, and making mini themed playlists. I made a space-themed playlist inspired by my astronomy class. It’s called “moonshine”
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One of the highlights of my day is seeing Ravi in the dining hall, one of the cashiers there. We both speak Hindi. He always asks me how I am, always smiles and offers a joke or two. 
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Every day I wonder why there are still so many construction workers on-site.
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“Oh yeah, everyone’s doing these now.”
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As a senior, I wish we had known exactly, that that was gonna be the last time we’d be in a classroom together.
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“That book is hot. I would have sex with that book.”
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Before lockdown began, I rushed out to buy a yoga mat. I started doing fitness classes on Zoom about a week or so in,  because I noticed my body hurt all the time. I realized I was always crouching, and when I slept I curled up rigidly into a fetus position, putting strain on my neck and back. My therapist says this position is something I go in because I subconsciously feel threatened or anxious. I needed to get loose.
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“I’ve been working on making this shelter but it keeps breaking into pieces.” Are you building a home? “I don’t even know.”
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“Now I get time to journal. I haven’t done that in ages.”
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“I just woke up now. But it’s good. I gotta work.”
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“The same song’s been playing for the past 45 minutes. I guess apparently I’m obsessed with it.”
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“How do you normally spend your days?” “I guess…I’m on the phone a lot.”
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“Shoes off before you enter! This is a virus-free zone.”
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“I can hear the conversations of people outside.”

 

All images taken by the author.

You can find more photography, and a continuation of this series, here

bed bugs: a curated playlist

Postscript is starting a new music column called “for the record” – here we’ll be sharing playlists for each issue and other writing and art on the topic of music. All submissions to this column (including Spotify playlists) can be emailed to postscriptmagazine1@gmail.com

bed bugs:
lo-fi/chill songs for lazing in bed & staring out the window during quarantine

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/5DVybFw6GTnuvBFPAqjqxB

Sign of the Times: A Photo Essay

Scenes of Abu Dhabi, UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young masked men play pool outside Madinat Zayed. Others seem to be selling fake designer clothes in an illicit secondhand market. A lone man in a polo shirt has erected jumping castles to make extra cash outside the Gold Center. The castles are deserted. He listens to something on his phone, absorbed with all the intensity of the clouds gathering above. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

Laborers in the city must continue to earn money. Juice shops, cafeterias, carpet sellers, cobblers, tailors, honey vendors…all remain. They sip tea in their shops, trying to sell. In 48 hours, they will have to pack up and stay home for two weeks. Almost everyone on the street is masked. Small cigarettes and “massage cards” lie motionless on the pavement. Malayalam, French, Urdu, Wolof, Bengali: all the languages of the streets, of the working class, dance. They filter through masks and mix with the air like steam rising from the chai at Happy Cafeteria. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

Small groups of young West African men swap cigarette boxes, thin rolls of money, and bottles of hand sanitizer as they congregate outside an apartment building. I try not to look. I, girl with the zooming camera and lens-corrected eyes, am looked at. I stumble upon a shop called MASK FASHION nearby. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — continues to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.

 

 

Vamika Sinha is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of Postscript. Find more of her photography here.

conditioner

& couldn’t we be
softer? flyaways tamed,
cowlicks domesticated, &
all the scallops filed
away. we could make this world

more than His dollhouse,
remind our minted, plasticky
selves of our own
fragility – the shredding
of a nail, temporariness
of skin, disobedience
inherited
in the curl of our hair:

rebel. i go
to the salon to be so
mutinous, palms
sweating under hairdresser’s cape.
i come to be beautiful
for my female gaze, eyes seaming
gently shut, as janice

kneads my shoulders. her tagalog rattling
above my scalp, knocking
with anna’s at reception, like a thousand
little cowrie shells. maryam dips

mulchy dyed paintbrush
into a mother’s roots, her arabic basting
the hairdryer’s din. two french women toast
their hands under
hot igloos calcifying
color on their hands quoi,
c’est magnifique, look

how pretty we
arm ourselves. & nobody
but us can ever know
how it feels: “for women only”

once, you set us
apart so we kept
making rooms for ourselves, steaming &
polishing our own kilns,
where we come under
fire, but only for the pleasure
of ourselves. see, the swing

of my smoking mouth, my smooth
jazz hair – this is all mine,
ours, this space where we lacquer
& buff all the edges
you sink in our silkened surfaces: yes,
we’re the paper you toss
after glossing upon, with
all the errors of your hands.

 

 

Image by Ciu Xiuwen, documentary still from “Ladies Room”, 2000

alternate love letter

dear ________________,

with you i have learned love
is utopia & dystopia at the same time.
so love is Earth
& we are highly skilled to kill
it. like damn, what did you think? 
all the god in the gold
chains round our necks 
could make us beautiful, & holy 
& not human? we are
just bodies, drums
of water & chemicals & constructions, paper
-skinned. little marbles
of World rubbing
against each other, how
acid leaks from a cloud’s 
cheek more than rain. all this,
to say: we are ending.

 

Painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, “Two Calla Lilies on Pink”, 1928

ruin

how many hands did god
cut – makers
of coffeebeans & compost &
money, mahals
how many hands 
fell

left carpets 
of wool & ice & persian delight &
skin severed; centerpiece 
shimmering

in the sun, 
my hand reveals the brushwork
the veins & their decisions
i have written, here

my wonder & my questions
the stones i have thrown 
in god’s koi 
pond watching for ripple 
to sunburst upon 

this ruin 
i stand 
before.