My Ruins
Divya Cowasji (India)

Adjoining my home is an old abandoned cemetery. From my earliest memories, I spent inordinate amounts of time there. It was often my refuge as a child. I knew the epitaphs by heart, who was buried where, and who mourned for whom just how poetically. At times I felt the weight of their sadness; at times they were just bits of stone and concrete to jump on and off of.

As a teenager, it is the first place I took a boy, on the day after we first met. We sat by a tombstone engraved ‘Not lost, but gone before’, and had our first real conversation. Serious and quiet and fitting. And there is where I had my first inkling that I would love this boy forever.

As an adult, in a hypnotherapists clinic in the midst of a nervous break, when asked to calm down and visualize a safe space where nothing could harm me – It is the graveyard next door I saw. It came as a shock to me. I had grown up, and forgotten. My haven amongst the ruins.

I have lived next door to this graveyard for thirty five years of my life. My parents for all of theirs and my grandparents for all of theirs. And yet, they have never been in there. Nor have any ‘grown ups’ I know. This is bizarre to me. And yet somehow it is right. Because they will never be able to see it though my eight year old eyes.


Divya Cowasji’s work focuses on the telling of oral histories, on ideas of home and family, memory, play and the body. Her work as a documentary filmmaker won her a National Award in 2015 for the documentary ‘Qissa-e Parsi’. Divya was also awarded the Inlaks Shivdasani Scholarship in 2015 as well as a Fellowship in the American Film Showcase Documentary Workshop. In 2021 she has been selected as the recipient of the India Photo Festival Grant.