KOCHI: Not all superheroes have capes, but they sure do have powers. This particular one’s weapon is something even better: A secondhand typewriter. Popular under her Instagram monicker ‘Lady Lazarus’, Alappuzha native Priya Varughese’s poems have the power to communicate emotions.
“There is a lot of evil in the world. But the biggest evil is that side of humans stopping them from believing in themselves. If I had superpowers, it would be to shoo away those demons,” she says.
It all began in 2017 when Priya got her typewriter. “It was a portable one brought from Bengaluru. I used to write letters whenever I had an overflow of emotions,” she says.
After a friend asked her to type his poem on the typewriter, Sreeram who is the founder of @buskingkochi, asked to collaborate. During busking, the artist would engage with strangers mostly and create works of art, which is, in this case, poetry. “Initially named @keralabusking, this is a community of artists performing in public with strangers to push themselves to improve their art,” says Priya.
After she busked poetry at a couple of events, Priya soon realised the scope of her art. “This could be much more for me than what I had intended. The conversations that ensued ranged from inanimate things to intense anecdotes from their lives,” she says.
Her works explored a side of poetry which heals the mind. “I realised that not many people have people to talk to and even if they do, not a lot of them empathise. I suffer from depression and anxiety. It took me a while to learn how to handle it. I had to read on my own to be aware. Busking allows me to help others going through the same struggle,” says Priya.
Still evolving, Priya’s artwork mostly focuses on creating mental health awareness. “Everybody has been talking about mental health. But to what extent can you help or do something to help others? The first thing to deal with your illness is to talk about it. Not everybody encourages sharing or conversations,” she says.
If that’s the case, how is it that they’ll open up to a stranger? “Even if you have shared your thoughts with someone close to you, there is a possibility that it might be used against you. Or that they may not understand. What I have to my advantage is that I am a stranger and I won’t come back to haunt them,” Priya laughs.
Named herself after Sylvia Plath’s famous poem, Priya hopes engaging with her will be the first of many conversations of the kind. “That’s the importance of communication. You can turn everything ugly about you into something beautiful,” she says.