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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, and Thoughts: A Literary Odyssey

By Varsha Panikar

I was 21 when I first watched 'Daisies'. It was my first Věra Chytilová film and I knew I didn’t understand it at the time, but also knew I loved it. It was overwhelming in its psychedelic colour, esoteric sets, and cryptic dialogue, but that wasn’t its only impact. Rather, it was the ineffable sense that these things were powerful political and social messages, ones I couldn’t yet decode. It shifted something in me. It was surreal and it stayed with me.

Daisies became a personal talisman of sorts, and over time, it opened my mind to exploring an array of experimental art. It was those things I later learned about—Dada, Fluxus happenings, feminist performance art—that have in turn continued to unlock new aspects of the film for me. It's a powerful statement piece, a surreal destruction of decadence, an experience, more felt than analysed.

Chytilová was blacklisted at the time for making Daisies, and this type of oppression and erasure can be seen all throughout history (even today), of underrepresented and marginalised visionaries in all fields, occupations and parts of life. Daisies is just first of the many formidable films by Chytilová that I grew to love.


DAISIES, 1966, ‘Sedmikrásky’, Directed by Věra Chytilová.

Plot: Two teenage girls, both named Marie, decide that since the world is spoiled they will be spoiled as well; accordingly they embark on a series of destructive pranks in which they consume and destroy the world about them. This freewheeling, madcap feminist farce was immediately banned by the government.

The dream stretched on and on. I never knew where it ended, for it didn't seem to. Eternity came and went and I just sat there and played. Lost with my toys and colours. There was no care. What I'd give to be back there.

The unrest for death is nothing compared to the vacuum, to the sense of loss, the bewilderment of her departure. A clean slate. With her gone, my whole family has disappeared. A gust of wind on the dust of time passing by in the hourglass that pulverizes everything. She was all I returned for. A slight kiss on the cheek, a little nap on her lap, inhaling her clean antique scent. I sometimes emerge from my restless sleep to bold nightmares and night terrors woven of loneliness and disillusions.

I find myself beating at her door, longing for her voice and the warmth of her embrace. The sweet illusion of being back in my childhood home to the faint beat of her ancient heart. She still whispers in my ear a reassurance, like when I was a child, but it is a pitiful lie. Everything passes and everything dissolves. People, things, love and hope.

A zine by Varsha Panikar from their ongoing mixed-media series, Origami Folds, that employs dreams, memories, archive and photography to explore the human body, and uses it as a medium and metaphor for hopeless fragility and hardened impenetrability, from which emerges the themes of identity, dysphoria, commodification of the body, and denial and loss of autonomy as conditions of globalized society and cultures, through the lens of south-Asian, queer and marginalized bodies.

Trigger Warning : This piece deals with depression, anxiety, and body dysphoria.

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