To Be Born Out of Violence by Quishile Charan

Quishile Charan looks into the history of Indenture Labour and its continual affects on Indo-Fijians and the political landscape of Viti, Fiji. Charan uses traditional modes of textile making and natural pigment dyeing to create an open dialogue into colonial historical. Charan is currently finishing her BFA (Hon) at Elan School of Fine Arts.

To adorn this window space
For a moment in time
Is to have a temporary place
When land is not a form of connection
Land is not home
How can one
Unravel narak
Seperate these from the flesh
At my core
My bones shake
Pleading for a moment
For a connection
For vanua
Here I lay down
The vanua of my people
Drenched in haldi
Existing only in the temporaril.

Narak – hell
Vanua – Fijian word for land

Haldi – turmeric

– Quishile Charan



Photos by Hugo Robinson


Still from Laura Duffy

To be born out of violence

Birthed from indenture
What is the worth of a coolie?
Ripped from the motherlands
Samundar to separate
India to Fiji
Brown bodies
Easy to dispose of
We being of lower caste
Tortured for sugar
As one country entered civil war
To free the African slaves
More bodies
More cracked bones
Blood spilt on sugarcane
Done for the white mans greed
Great Britain only GREAT for it’s conquering
We to only be seen as dirty
As unclean
For being stolen
For being lied too
For being promised that one day we would see Mother India
All we had was lord Rama
Left to die in the fields
In the coolie lines
Did you hear them sing?
Sing of their exile?
Did you hear the hindi words
“please pray for us, pray for peace”
Walking into Nadi town begging for our safety
The 1960s and nothing had changed
1987 we fled
The military seeking us out for the wrong doings of the British
We ran in fear
Would we ever be loved?
Not wanted by India
Not loved by Fiji
2001 came and they took me away
we ran too
no more safety in my beloved Viti
7000 jobs lost in exchange for more coup violence
My life violence
All I’ve ever known

– Quishile Charan

The Gaze is Not Something You Have or Use (It is a relationship entered into) was an exhibition of work and publication of national and international wāhine artists and writers. Each artist created work that was embodied, marked by their experiences and offered ways of expressing empathy through self care, repetition, unlearning / learning and humour.

Contributors and collaborators:

Audrey Baldwin (Ōtautahi)
Katherine Botten (Narrm)
Sophie Cassar (Narrm)
Quishile Charan (Tāmaki Makaurau)
Klein (London)
Ayesha Tan-Jones (London)

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