Ruati Chhangte | Visual Essay

She told me that her new city shape-shifted overnight, and that the streets started to burst with flowering trees. The colors, the sickly sweet smell, the eerie lightness in the air – they followed her everywhere she went. Spring here, she realized, was maniacal.

She found herself overcome by this odd desire to flit away to a dark corner somewhere, or descend on a dinghy little pub. To try and block out all the pinkness, she said. She told me that she would listen to The Black Keys all the time, and would often have flashbacks of her old life near the sea. She said that she missed the lushness of the waves, and of wandering aimlessly in a place that knew her name. She also kept haunting the bookstore and repeatedly asked for Mishima, but he was a hard find those days.

She wrote me: “I feel a surfeit of everything. My long strolls in Lalbagh haven’t really helped clear my head; I just keep going back there because I can’t think of anywhere else to go. Reuben left. At long last. Funnily enough, I find that it is his morning tea that I miss the most. He makes good tea. Which reminds me…I am really hungry right now, but there is nothing in the kitchen except some old cookies and chicken broth cubes. Last week, I went out and bought dried herbs, red chillies, and would you believe it, rhododendron juice. It reminded me of the hibiscus juice that we used to drink all the time in Auroville. Gosh, I hated that place, but there were some things there that were nice. Like the clean beach, and drinking that purple thing beneath the flickering shade of the bamboos. That was pretty gawdamn nice…anyway I am rambling and I must stop. Lots of things to do, lots of things to do. I feel that I am hovering on the brink of something monumental…”

She also sent me these lines that she said she wrote among the trees:

672 hours.

I counted my heartbeat.

84 beats per minute.

Today, I watched an old woman polish wrinkly oranges with a dirty piece of cloth.

They looked pale and lifeless, just like her tiny hands.

In the afternoon, a white dog jumped on me as I was trying to cross the road.

I wanted to keep him in my pocket and never let him out again.

I went to the post office and stood in line, and I remembered my grandfather.

672 hours.

And I am not writing any of the things that I really want to write.

Don’t be frangible, my heart.

I wouldn’t know how to piece you together again.


Ruati Chhangte is a reader, writer and hobby photographer from Mizoram. She is deeply passionate about gardening, planting trees, editing fiction, and tending to her family farm with her tree-hugging mother.

She blogs at


Special thanks to the legendary Surendra Patel who developed all the films and scanned the negatives with much love and care. Thank you for your passion dear Sir.

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