This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Upanshu Mishra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Commonplace – A Recollection of Small Steps Forward

I remember the day it began. I was an apprehensive first year student at Patna University, just done with the end of the year examination off to answer Anchit’s call to meet up. Reminiscing about that event five years later while Anchit gave off his opening speech at the inaugural screening of our longest motion poem yet- ‘Ek Shahar ki Yaadein’ made me almost question my apprehension. Almost! For you see reader, it might come as a surprise to you that we the veritable founders of Commonplace, atleast Anchit and I, had never before, that hesitant (on my part) rendezvous at Darbhanga House, met apart from sharing a few conversations on the phone. I still wonder the secret ingredient behind the solidarity we seem to share despite having different world views; at times conflicting too.

After understandably awkward introductions we talked about the subject in which I was but a rank amateur. The other three, if they were aware of my glaring lack of any cultural capital did not express it. Especially Asiya, who as if Socrates reborn wouldn’t be dissuaded of the notion that she, before Jon Snow had even made the phrase popular, knew nothing. And thus was our group formed to bring together the wandering ‘knowers of nothing’ and in that process gain something, anything.

In the screening of our latest venture, a brand new motion poem, we had managed to bring together some experienced literary faces but that is not an achievement we are overly proud of. That the screening was done in the presence of children and young adults who would in the future apprehensively meet new faces, form new groups, talk about literature and generally work together to ensure that the literary culture of the city shall stay with the mass, for it is these children who, we knew the moment we decided to screen our film at Kilkari, shall be like us, a part of the amorphous mass.

Back when Anchit and I used to meet at unlikelier places like the ghats (all of them) or Gandhi Maidan; back when Silversands, the residue of our first meet in the form of a literary journal, was just published and the idea of a bilingual newsletter, later to be baptized as Hearth, was under construction we met Utkarsh, a student like us trembling with melancholy for the city. Our talks now burned but gave off the warmth of smoldering embers in front of which during winters people find themselves huddled together to bask. We loved our city and we hated it all the same. The city broke us and it remade us. And during nights in the tranquil moments of our individual recollection, while the sun had bled to birth the moon and the evening sky overhead turned black with morbid sorrow, we had realized all in our own unique way that we were not the only ones. The treacherous passage of time which in cities calls itself history had broken more than it had made. Something had changed and nothing had. ‘After such knowledge, what forgiveness?’

We had lost something and we needed to express it, we needed to hear the people, the ones broken express it and thus the idea of motion poems. An emotive medium of our expression in which words, music and moving pictures said things with such glaring obviousness that to shy away from it is to withdraw from our resonating self. Betarteeb was the first motion poem that delved within the poet’s inner self so as to unravel the intricacies of human anxiety. ‘Ek Shahar ki Yaadein’ on the other hand is a journey outwards. By this time the poet within had lost its sense of ‘ego’ and had learnt to project its anxiety on the outside to its muse the city. The ‘ego’ by this time was a solemn self that had made peace with its brokenness. Just like we at commonplace have now gone beyond personal prejudices to bring together all those who strive to express themselves not only via poetry but other art forms as well. Our website and blog are reserved for these new voices. ‘To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;’

And these motion poems? It is only another step forward.

From left to right: utkarsh, anchit, asiya and upanshu.




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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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