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”.

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56/2017: Lessons from my Mother (2): Friendship

She taught me to seek,
the ones who would hold
my past in their heart,
and wrap it with laughter,
while promising me,
with their eyes,
that they would remember me
in the future,
even if I was not there
to greet​ it with them.

They in turn
shared with me the
pieces of her heart,
she had left in their care
confident that even in
different bodies, they
would beat in sync
with the rhythm her song.

a tune growing and expanding
with music draw from souls
that protected and shielded
the power of her love,
a gift if legacy passed
down from the bonds of family
born and created to connect
past and future.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: For my mother’s friends, who never let us feel alone or forget her.

Day 358: The Moon’s Awakening

Cast in the silvery glow of the moon,
I see the truths I kept hidden,
the lies I took comfort in believing
and the people who found joy in my pain.

Cast in the silvery ray of the moon,
I see the silver threads of power in my skin,
the light of the universe reflected in my eyes,
and the strength of my words.

Cast in the silvery light of the moon,
I finally understand I am magic,
the embodiment of stardust, and dreams
filled with the brilliance of life.

Cast in the silvery intensity of the moon,
I see the truth I ignored,
that I am the sun, radiating light
and illuminating the dark of the moon.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: Written as part of a series of poems I wrote for a client. I ended up giving her the one that spoke the most to her journey but fell in love with all of them.  

Day 322: Mystic Women

They pull at your coat
a way to drag you
down and back,
place you safely
in your box.
If only they could
remove the garment
of power you wear.

But what they don’t
understand is you
do not wear power,
you are the strength
of the universe made flesh.
They cannot rip it from you.

It is trying to claim
Air from the skies,
It surrounds you,
fluid and life-giving.

Freely shared to all,
who dare to breathe deeply.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: Apologies for the repost- hit post  instead of save by mistake. Thank you

Day 264: Reconciling (Feminist) Hinduism

I belong to a
spirituality
that celebrates
the strength
of my gender and a
religion that tells me
that I am “less than”
because of who I am.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: apologies for the resending but just fixed an error. 

 

Day 252: Unseen Darkness

TRIGGER WARNING: abuse

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 248: The Undefinable (Sandra)

When silence held my tongue,
you undid the stitches that
woven across my lips.

As I tried to crack open,
windows in trapped rooms,
I had built around myself,
you reminded me that
I was already outside.

I imagine you like the wind,
catching us up in your current,
but you quickly become the sun,
calm and warming.

Sometimes you are the storm,
urging me to move,
to steer the ship
upon which I had lazily
set sail.

Other days you are the sea,
the soulful waves upon
which I can rest my
hurting heart.

But alway you are
a force of love and guidance.
A friend with no compare.

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: To start, I need to apologise, this poem was supposed to go up on May 16, but I couldn’t get in the right headspace to create it. I couldn’t help the amount of pressure I put on myself to finish it. Sandra is the only one of my best friends group from high school, who is not in Toronto. Distance, coupled with her aversion to social media (though we are wearing her down) means I don’t always get the chance to tell her how special she is. So when I get the chance, I want every word to be perfect.

You ever have that friend, who is both your biggest cheerleader and person who will tell you off in a heartbeat. That’s my best friend, Sandra. We became friends in Grade 10 when I ended up missing almost a month of classes because of surgeries. I was in a panic about catching up when Janny, told me to ask Sandra. It turned out Sandra was in EVERY SINGLE ONE of my classes. We connected over shared notes and had been best friends since.