May 23rd, 2020

Words by Shruti Mittal · Artwork by Victoria Campa

The pandemic has forced some of us to return to old circumstances where we lack agency, whether that is dsyfunction, coping mechanisms we have identified as destructive, or co-habiting with an abuser. I wrote this poem to give my struggles visibility, and I can only hope that at least one person who reads the poem can find some of that visibility too.

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I now stand at the door of the room I've been asked to occupy in the house that didn't feel mine, 

letting myself get acquainted with the kind of assurance only an ex-snitch can offer. 

It's not a safe haven, it's a storeroom.

I sit on the chair in front of the cupboards, 

behind a desk, 

left of a bed and

right of a people I'm trying to secede from 


As my friend waltzes about on a screen 

I look into the webcam and say "you're stuck."


 I'm surrounded by every piece of furniture I swore I had left out in the street,

and tied to every word I told my therapist I didn't want to hear as an adult 

I'm witness to my fallacies that are side-ways when i'm away

but I'm back to being the headline that reports turbulence with every passing day


For a few days I tried to wake up and smell the coffee,

It brewed so loud and fast, I went back to sleep. 

I'd wake up when it was dark and quiet telling myself 'you have to pick this over that'


For a different set of few days, I tried to wake up and stay awake

because the number of hours in the day could mean more meals and more actions for that empty journal page. 


I have important things to do like feel okay

and then I think about June 

how it'll be so hot and I'll still be here,

this room doesn't have cooling

and so sweat will meet tears 

and my acceptance will meet despondence of "you'd pick this over sleeping in the same room as them" 

And many a night I've picked it 

and put down my rage, I couldn't let my inner child get far enough to have roots somewhere that wasn't here

but how do you get mad at a virus.

Shruti Mittal is a university student from New Delhi, India. Music, mental health advocacy and representation for trauma survivors are some of the things she's passionate about. Shruti loves writing diary entry-esque songs and sometimes uploads them onto social media. 

Victoria Campa grew up in Madrid, Spain, and has traveled around the world with her camera. She mostly lenses women in quiet moments within their environments, and she is interested in exploring the passage of time, strength in vulnerability, and inner lives through stories. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter about art, film, and writing called things to look at. You can explore her work at www.victoriacampa.com