A lot has been said about, and since, the rape and consequent death of a woman in Delhi, India in December 2012.

The incident sparked protests, hashtags, inquiries, welfare schemes, even names of trains in memoriam. I believe it is responsible for generating online conversations about gender based violence in India, and further afield.  It has inspired many to break the silence, speak out, fight for rights, stake a claim, reclaim, reiterate […. regurgitate…]

Yet amidst the speaking out some things have gone silent. There is a perception that women need more protection, not freedom; there are calls for support, not agency; there is chest-beating, but what of the almost – daily struggle with language and power?  When the event ceases to be in the news cycle or an on/offline spectacle, then what?

This is a collection of writing at the penumbra of a particular incident: uncertainties, speculations, questions, unexpected perspectives; it is about the other silences, the ones that have gone back into their closets.  This is a collection of fiction and non-fiction writing -published elsewhere, and new – that maps the cities that have existed in our blindspots: the one inhabited by the female domestic worker who endures public transport because her livelihood depends on it, or the working class, migrant chowkidar who mans the gated colony from outside it; the localities of savagely persistent inequities across caste and class; the pernicious everyday-ness of sexism, the slow-motion implosion of urban infrastructure; the brokenness of the law and it’s enforcement.  These are hard and dispiriting things to engage with. But rather this then the televisual and digital explosion of noise around incidents.

One day someone read something I wrote about Delhi in the weeks after the rape and suggested I talk to X publisher about putting together a book. X publisher is very well known and busy so I forgive her for not responding to my emails. I couldn’t wait; this is my knocking from inside the walls.  I’m very grateful to those who have knocked along with me. 


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