You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
These lines of American poet and rights activist Maya Angelou from her poem Still I Rise some way or other reach us every time we witness the stories of resilience. When we see photos of scholar and activist Umar Khalid with his partner Banojyotsna Lahiri celebrating seven days of relief that he fortunately got for attending the wedding of his sister, we get to know what resilience means. At a time when we mostly lose patience with the blink of a digital notification and search for quick resolve and action, there are people across the globe who are struggling intermittently, only to rise again.
Christine Slaughter in her recent doctoral thesis submitted to University of California (UCLA) talked about the resilience of African-Americans and showed how their greater political participation is related to their conviction. Angela McRobbie in her book Feminism and the Politics of Resilience posits resilience as means to counter the neo-liberal feminist leadership that hardly leaves spaces to listen to other forms of feminism. In this way, the concept and politics of resilience are also used in climate politics and in the domain of international relations.
However, as commonly perceived, the resilience that we look at here talks about all the migrant workers who despite being forced to walk miles to their homes during the Covid-19 lockdowns don’t lose the hope to live. We listen to those Kashmiri voices who deny being trapped in the tropes of imposed ‘normalcy’. We revisit the alleys of Kamathipura where sex workers still try to navigate through the forces that make them social ‘outcast’.
In this series of articles, we search for that Namboodiri woman of Matampu Kunhukuttan’s Malayalam novel Outcaste, who despite knowing the consequences of adultery in 1905 Kerala was unflinching. The series is a tribute to all those who survived and still survive without being choked while walking through the dusty roads of uncertainty and despair.