When you live in a nightmare, when you wake each day with a sense of dread, you recall things that gave you hope, you imagine things as they could be, you look for reasons to engage with your increasingly horrifying reality.

I often return, at those times, to a past that promised a world of peace and love and harmony, of equality and freedom for everyone. Singer Joni Mitchell comes to mind, telling me that we are better than what we are living through, that we have been sold for blood money, that we must bring ourselves back to the beauty, the compassion and the solidarity that we are all capable of.

We are stardust, we are golden
We are part of the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.

Joni Mitchell, Woodstock, 1969

Arshia Sattar is a writer in Bangalore. She translates from Sanskrit. Her work includes translations of the Ramayana, and three critical studies.

Read all the contributions to the PEN project here.