Ankita Saxena

poet, performer, workshop facilitator

cw: suicide, mental health

I have never written a blog post before but there are a lot of things running through my mind that I wanted to express.

I recently came to hear of the death of Palash Chowdhary, a 12th grader in the school my brother goes to and which I taught at a few summers ago. I never knew Palash but the manner of his death – falling from the eighteenth floor terrace in my apartment block in Bangalore, shook me. Whether this was an accident or a deliberate attempt to take his own life, this event is a tragedy for the community I love and am familiar with and I cannot imagine what his friends, family, classmates and teachers must be going through.

On a personal level, I have always counted my own mental health as a privilege. I went to an aggressively pressurising school followed by a similarly pressurising university. And I survived relatively unscathed. Yet in recent months, I’ve learnt that even the happiest of people can have bad days, or periods of bad days.

I am a people person. I love spending time with friends and family, getting to know their stories and laughing, loving and joking. And the saddest I’ve been is when I’ve felt lonely. When a big period of your life like school or university ends, it’s easy to feel a void. Luckily for me this loneliness is temporary and often just situational: as soon as I move from an empty house to a busy café or library, or fill an empty day with a busy schedule, a lot of what I feels goes away. Yet, for many people, loneliness can become internalised.

Self care is not talked about enough. Especially among young boys in India. Our culture demands ‘macho-ism’, competitiveness, resilience, keeping your problems to yourself and productivity at all hours of the day. This needs to change. Children and teenagers need to know that talking about their feelings is a strength and that asking for help is not an admission of failure. Most importantly, they need to feel like they’re not alone.

So to all the students of TISB and of the world: I just want you to know, you are not alone. If you are ever feeling stressed or sad or anxious speak to someone – that friend you never really gave a chance but always clicked with, your mother, a friendly teacher, or a counsellor. And if anyone at all wants to reach out to me, I will be most happy to help you the best I can.

Sending all my love and prayers at this difficult time. If anything I’ve written upsets you, message me and I will take this down.

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About Ankita

Ankita Saxena is the author of Mother | Line, which released in April 2023, with Verve Poetry Press. She read English Literature at Jesus College, Oxford (2014-2017), where she was Head of Events at Oxford University Poetry Society, and President of the Turl Street Arts Festival. She has been commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award three times. She is a Barbican Young Poet alumnus, part of the Octavia Poetry Collective, and one half of the ORIGINS Poetry Duo. Her poetry is published in Wasafiri, Modern Poetry in Translation and Bath Magg. She has performed widely across the UK, including live at Hammersmith Appollo, with The Guilty Feminist.

By day, she works at Social Finance, a not-for-profit social enterprise, helping to tackle complex and enduring issues in society and create lasting and widespread change.

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