By Saadia Peerzada, Undergraduate Batch of 2022 In the wake of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta and
Varisha Tariq, Class of 2019
Advice I would have given to my mother on her wedding day
you are allowed to say no
— Rupi Kaur
I sit in the auditorium, waiting for her to arrive. The show is officially running late, so I switch on my phone to distract myself. I am in Delhi’s Kamani auditorium, a six hundred-seater hall. The place quickly fills up by 5 PM, but it is only around 5.30 PM that the stage is set up. Everybody moves to the edge of their seat, anticipating her arrival.
There have been times when Rupi Kaur’s poetry has been very hard hitting for me; some of her bite-size Instagram poetry posts are saved in a quotes folder on my phone. But they have never hit me hard enough to go online and buy her books. Still, I wasn’t one to turn down a poetry night. So I bought my tickets and went. As far as I was concerned, it was either going to be good or going into my “experience list”.
Kaur’s poetry has always been simple. She writes about subjects that are ‘common’ in the spoken word circles; her choice of these common subjects has garnered her a lot of negative reactions. Yet, when she performs, I cannot keep my eyes off her. She is hilarious and confident, with a voice made to recite poetry. Words and verses that seemed simple on my Instagram feed suddenly have a deeper meaning. I am so mesmerised by her performance that when she recites my favourite poem, “Legacy”, I forget that I can record it. Kaur’s honesty on paper strangely becomes something more intimate — more personal — even as she performs in a room full of strangers. It is like we are sitting across each other and talking about the struggles of being a brown girl, of being body shamed, of being slut shamed, of having a broken heart, or a broken soul. Her performance is absolutely riveting. Later, I keep looping the videos I remembered to record.
I also end up ordering both her books as audiobooks.
To all those who think that her work isn’t good enough to receive the overwhelming positive response it has: you should see her perform. Her voice holds an incredible amount of power; it flows like a song that hits right where it hurts.
My advice? Buy those damn tickets the next time.