The world comes to us in the form of bad news. For a year now, or maybe longer, I have been cutting out a piece of the daily newspaper and painting over it. I guess I don’t want to be passive or helpless before that onslaught of news. Maybe I’m seeking understanding, or just plain solace.

I live in upstate New York. I cut out a report on, say, the Trump administration or something terrible happening in the world, and then paint what I see outside my window. I think that’s how it all started. I have a whole folder on my computer now of news from around the world that I take a look at now and then.

In recent days, with the experience of lockdown, I have found myself returning to an image from Kashmir. A rash of cancellations during a period of curfew. It is heartbreaking and I have not been able to yet imagine what I want to draw over it.

I could read the names over and over again as if I were repeating the words of a sad prayer.

Amitava Kumar is the author of The Lovers: A Novel and other books.

Read the other pieces in the Art of Solitude series here.