Varsha Dutta Pujari (India)

Warscapes Corona Notebooks

In her genre-bending videopoem, Varsha Dutta Pujari tries to offer a lyric for the inhumane and terrifying emergency that the covid-19 pandemic has imposed upon the people of India. She explores this formless fear surrounding herself and her community, and finds herself desperately searching for words and images. As a neuropsychologist and a poet, Dutta Pujari is also actively providing mental health counseling specifically addressing the problems arising from this time. 


                                                          The Anatomy of Fear                    |                    Varsha Dutta Pujari


These past few weeks have been spent chronicling this mad journey or the “Emergency of fear” as I call it and if you ask me I wouldn’t be able to put my thoughts on any one thing. It feels like I am puppeteered to the body’s own automatic rhythm of formlessness, a kind of automatic movement of departure where a sudden stupor is jolted by the slowness of chores and mindless rituals.

It is this slowness that suddenly creeps into the being, a form of slathering beast, and one we unknowingly keep meditating on!

This sudden ineffable fear, has now occasioned itself to becoming a tribute to all those who are battling it out in their own silent way including those who have us covered and keep burning inside those impossible PPEs and still keep doing what they do best under these impossible circumstances, including my surgeon husband and friends out here. I feel we are all soulfully inked in the same way now.

This has also been a revelation in the many ways contrasts and opposites have been playing out now right from being startled into an awakening of crisis this virus bought on with it, when on a sudden Monday I was stumped by the visuals of all these people in their long march to nowhere, some were just feet without even slippers embarking into the unknown and others seemed automatic in their departure as they were being slathered by the beast of the sun in those unending highways.

Along these lines, the carcass of these skinned thoughts were pulled along the ancient vacation of the primitive dream of my ancestors who started this mad journey of hide and seek with a solitary Sun without its Moon.

So, please bear with this brittle ranting on trying to grab the anatomy of fear littered everywhere now.


The Emergency of Fear


Bombay is Automatic

Automatic in its departure to the known

And now in its departure to the unknown

Automatic in its stupor of sudden pots and pans clanging

with aching hands.


The fear of the breath of the slathering beast drags the demon of the feet thru’ the cleansing ritual of this house


this sudden animal of fear stupors

at the sight of the yellowed

copperheads in bloom

fears when its leaves rustle

fears at the sight of birds when you hear them

fears at the appearance of its own shadow

and its own heart trying to fathom this fear



Meditating on the Slathering Beast

Automatic in this long walk through empty chores of movement and then to dream of us in the highways in our swanky cars past the frozen summer breeze as the trees and the asphalt leave us to gawk back at the diamond in the sky and we roar back with the black clouds behind us in that solitary dream of Being in the Road Again



Resurrecting the Anatomy of Fear

Bombay is Automatic in our departure to the unknown

Cooking and cleaning,

with a husband’s fixation to gut out fear

thru’ invisible incisions

Sudden rickety brawl of the snake trains sizzle past the moronic noons, 1, 2, 3…...7, 9 times it went past Mamma,

Past our solitary home shadows, past the yellowed copper sullen trees

blind in its copper pollens that march in infinitesimal breath across the city lines, blowing dust into our hearts.

The kids wet their bodies in the make believe swimming pool, and water each other like gushing periwinkles in the wind and slosh and laugh without any thought cloud erect in that No-mind state.


A Tribute to Fear (On a Monday)


We’ve Stopped…You from Becoming

U have stopped ALL meaning,

The soft animal foot quietly slithers past the dragging slippers now

And we break our backs lifting this madness

to the sky of ambition

and mock the invisible.



Waking up to our Gadgets

We wake up to the great gadget in our hands now

Where the nooks of the hidden fear no longer applies to the numb flowing of the constant tap-a-tap-a-rap that does not relieve






is automatic



…………...Automatic in its ancient vacation of rainbow dream along the mighty tantrum thrown at us.

Bombay again

Automatic in its departure in the primitive dream, where it rose up, sorry floated up from the body bags like the way fear leaves the animal

In its arrogance of

always trying to fix eternity



in its human’s form

Of stony angels

floating in thin air

Sending a war

full of sanitized soldiers

from head to toe


the invisible,


carcass of the atom.


Soldiers in this visible dream

of a phantom army

syringing ammunition

to eat away the fear

that has gotten stuck

to Our souls now



The Mist around us


The mist around us

We the Solar creatures

with the sun sewn back to back

to our withered backs

punishing us even more

there is no running away from

this automatic

City of departure

we are still the Sun’s spoilt children

We will not let the Sun retreat

to the automatic memory game of the hide and seek with the moon

we will force this Sun to wallow in Lunar madness


Trains are moving, ants are marching, pollens wafting and marching thru dust of this automatic arithmetic of its soul!


Starving phantoms, hiding behind numbers

unholy city, glamour past

the corpses waiting to be hidden under the ghost soil

according to the ministry of the Health Master’s guidelines

the surgeon summons his gut and gloves

and drinks raw apple cocktails blistered with the cavity of the unknown and the grapes of sweet wasted labor – summons him to the departure

of yet another soul


and brings with it

the automatic surreal smile

The brazen death of haiku of drinks and poetry and songs follow

as we return to ancient Sun

not so long ago

when our grandfathers

grew roots deep down the dark earth

and were all of a sudden

whilst still in their sleep

pulled out with their lower bodies still growing underneath that dark soil inch by inch

and they spilled these half grown limbs

all across the automatic City’s Heaven

where they kept


building dreams one on top of the other

with  their skulls first

then their tongues

then the lungs

and then with their chewed out hearts



The anatomy  of that ancestral pair

still lurks beneath my eyes and

I can feel them even when I sweep over my brow


my father calls everyday



still ranting and sun retching

his okra, ma’s Kopou, his green gold,

the datura,

wood apples and the colocasia 

and asks if

we are done staring at the Sun


There is Silence


so he quietly breathes

and summons

the stolen siesta times from

childhood afternoons

when we cooped water

in those Giant Colocasia leaves

he assures

he will coop this fear

in the Giant leaves

and pour it across

the half eaten earth



this will put This slathering beast  to sleep

one that slays

and slays us all

too darn well.




Varsha Dutta Pujari is a Neuropsychologist based in Mumbai, India. She is a published medical researcher and a poet, and her work has appeared in both Indian and International Journals. She founded Soma Living Roots in 2017, dedicated towards medical research with entheogenic plants and psychedelic medicine and is currently working with end-stage cancer patients with existential concerns and those with depression. During the Covid 19 pandemic, she initiated a free online psychotherapeutic counseling service called “A crumb of comfort without borders" where mental health counselors and doctors are currently reaching out to all those who need psychological counseling during these difficult times.