Every Saturday morning for six weeks in 2019, 10 strangers with different paths came together to write away their thoughts. At first, they all believed they had nothing in common. But they all yearned for love and acceptance. 

They were all on a quest for home. 

They live in a country that demands they reject their South Asian roots, but in this space, they could embrace their ancestral homes and center themselves as the hero of their own narrative journey towards home. 

The writers explored questions around identity, queerness, self-love, cookies, and a fantasy voyage in the mountains. And we created this zine, A Quest for Home. 

You can download the Zine here.

Thank you Open Source Gallery for providing us a place to call home, and Arts & Democracy for the support and lastly, Roohi Choudhry for guiding each of our spirits. 

Here’s how it started. Arts and Democracy held a series of conversations with young South Asians in Kensington. Folks who were silenced by the expectations of tight-knit communities and a larger whitewashed culture, who didn't have a safe space where they could express their full selves. Who said their real lives exist outside the neighborhood. 

Someone might say that New York City is home for the young folks who came to Open Source Gallery every Saturday for six weeks to write together. So what does it mean that they live outside of home?

For most of us in this community, the search for home has felt like a mythic quest and so it was natural to turn to ancient stories of heroes and villains for inspiration. 

But most traditional myths and legends start inside, in a safe home, and the hero leaves in search of something new. Their battles are out there. But the young people in this workshop started outside. We were trying to find our way in. Home.

So we used stories to write ourselves inside. We made our own south asian mythology. We read retellings of the Ramayana and Anarkali and Sufi folk tales and queer poets. We made maps and wrote letters that we never sent and drew comics. Some kindred spirits came along for the ride. Emily Ahn Levy, supporter extraordinaire, came and wrote where I'm from poetry with us. Bishakh Som, our awesome guest comics artist talked to us about comics and community. Fahmida Rashid and Eugene Myers gave us retold stories to inspire us. Shauna and Monica put a roof over our heads.

With their support, we wrote together about names and songs and lovers and saris and gods. We knitted the words we wrote into a shelter, a home we all had with each other for two hours a week. Home was a quest we started as strangers. But then, home became a safety we found with each other. Home became a book to say what cannot be said.

Come join us in the South Asian mythic journey towards home and identity.

Fabric art at Open Source Gallery workshop site by Monica Jahn Bose
Photos: Anna Rathkopf, Emily Ahn Levy (workshop)
Mother and daughter art from Illuminations from the Bhagavad-Gita by Kim and Chris Murray