Unseen Darkness, Collabs, and ANBU

“Unseen Darkness” is one of my favourite pieces and most powerful collaborations. It 9d08101b-a66a-4afa-8a72-093db0e4dee4
provided me with an opportunity to work with the talented at artist, Thiviyaa Sehasothy of Art by Thiviyaa, and Dilani Bala, Photographer extraordinaire. But as in the true nature of collabs, this piece extended past the three of us, and has a story of many admirable people/women.
Below I want to share my story, as that is the one I can speak to.

Where does this story begin?… In many different places, with many different people.

It began with a post about VAW shared across three Instagram channels.

It began when Thiviyaa created a beautiful piece from the (just as soul speaking) work of Dilani.

It began with a phone call to Thiviyaa, asking if she would want to create a piece for this poem.

It began when Abuse Never Becomes Us (ANBU) asked me if I had a photo to accompany the poem. I said, “Not yet, but there is only one person I want to ask.”

It began with ANBU, who reached out to me to share a piece for their March 2017 Newsletter.

It began with the stellar performance of my friend Sathya Thillainathan, who told Anbu about my poetry after she performed at their launch event.

It began from conversations with survivors; legal workers; counselors; politicians,  and groups, like the South Asian Women’s Centre; the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario; Canadian Council of Muslim Women; Againcourt Community Services Association; with conversations with activists like Deepa Mattoo, Farrah Khan, Maryum Anis and others.

It began with sitting on municipal; provincial; national roundtables and strategy meetings; asking “white” women to understand that, not all violence could be seen.

It began with projects on Gender Based Violence; Violence Against Women; Honour Based Violence and asking people to look past their conception of race, culture, and violence.

It began with conversations with my family and friends.

It began with personal experiences.

It began…

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**Previously shared on Instagram.

Author’s Note: Just a note, even if you are not directly mentioned you have impacted my life, story and work. This story, specifically was the story of “unseen darkness”.


Day 252: Unseen Darkness


When you tried to paint
my body in colours of
blue and purple,
my dark skin
hid your sins
from eyes trained
in the glow of
soft white light.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

Day 49: The Lies We Tell

**Trigger Warning: Abuse (Physical)**

Deep Brown eyes stare back at me,
Fleeting whispers floating between us,
Shadows creep silently,
Across broad brown shoulders,
The darkness melding within the chocolate hues,
Lengthening to point accusingly,
At the faded bruise
That still held faint outlines of his hand.

“Are you okay? Should I call someone?”
I hear the teacher’s voice whisper
In front

My eyes jump back up,
Shamed to be caught,
Starting at the dark eyes,
That hid darker shadows.

“I’m fine, I fell”
I watched her rouge tipped lips open in reply,
Tasting the words,
Rolling them around her tongue
Until they fit,
Like words spoken
In love
In faith
In truth

“Should I call a doctor?”
The persistent voice asked again,
Concern and patronization moving together
To create a melody of the question,

“No really I am fine, I fell.”
Stronger, this time
The eyes lit with the flame of memory,
Recreated to a story to be told over and over,
Each time more real than the last.

Hands lift reaching across
Touch the fading bruise,
Face flinching from where my fingers lay,
Turning to look away.

With a breath, I slowly withdraw my hand
Shaking as it moves from the mirror.
Square the shoulders,
Bright smile,
A deep inhalation and whisper…
“I am fine, I fell.”

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: Sometimes the title is the hardest part of writing, I am still not sure if this is right, or if it should be The Lies We Tell Ourselves (sometimes I way too obsessive over one word, but other times I realize that is what makes me love writing – each word).