chapter  4
20 Pages

Movement in Time: Choreographies of Confi nement in an Inpatient Ward


Some days in the ward we pick stones out of rice, a task so common to Indian women’s kitchen worlds that it has its own verb. I sit on the fl oor with Riti, here for four months with a diagnosis of schizophrenia; Pooja, the ward attendant who took up this job when her husband died; Isma, who has lived in the women’s unit for twelve years, with a diagnosis past tense enough to feel like a recurring dream; and Sanjana, whose diagnosis of schizophrenia hinges on her account of her divorce. The rice arrives from the kitchen in a plastic bag. Pooja pours it onto plates, one for each person. The sound of grains on metal is like a shower of tiny bells, loud in the sleepy hush. We lean over, bodies reaching earthward, fi ngers walking through shifting dunes. Our eyes fall on fl ashes of grey. Our fi ngertips catch something sharp: a husk, a stone, a density that could break a tooth.