Haul of Mood - Zine

My first-ever comic/ zine is here! Created over the course of 6 months, Haul of Mood is finally available for purchase. A little about it: 

Haul of Mood is a short comic/ zine that aims to vividly portray my inner
emotional world using colour, narration, and point of view. It delves
into the depths of my sentimentality and how it profoundly influences
my day-to-day life. By sharing my thoughts and interpretations of the
world, I invite readers to experience the objects and moments that
ignite strong responses within me, even if some may perceive them as
dramatic or excessive.

Haul of Mood also serves as a platform for autobiographical expression,
portraying the self as a character through which identity is constructed
and depicted. The process of creating this comic was intuitive yet
introspective, and I believe this medium is perfectly suited to convey
such an idea.

If you would like to purchase a copy, here are some details: 

There will be a showcase event held where the zine will debut

Event information: 

Wednesday, August 9th 2023
4:00pm - 6:00pm
The University of Melbourne
John Medely Building, Level 4

You can use this form to put in your order for either a PDF/ soft copy version or a pre-ordered hard copy version (which will require you to pick it up from the University of Melbourne campus at a later date): 


Alternatively, if you cannot attend the event, you can put in an order using the link below (shipping available & more suited to buyers outside of Melbourne): 

You can also find this link under my 'Shop' tab.

I am super excited to be sharing this. I've spent a lot of time creating it and I hope you love it as much as I do. Thank you for your support and kindness. 

With love, from Aastha. 

Treasure // Palindrome


X-marked treasure - home to secrets,
resides underneath.
Beginnings of mystery,
answering prayers.
Unveiling the purpose of me.

Me, of purpose?
The unveiling prayers answering mystery of beginnings
Underneath resides secrets to home
Treasure marked-X. 

* The first stanza of this poem speaks of locating answers to personal identity and purpose, which are rooted in the idea of a ‘home country’. The metaphorical treasure stands in for the lost or buried cultural practices and traditions that’ve been erased by colonisation (of India, my home country). The stanza thus speaks of locating this treasure, in order to achieve a clearer, more concrete understanding of my identity, to feel connected to my roots and to find my purpose.

The second stanza then speaks of my identity, after having located this metaphorical treasure and recognising that my purpose is indeed embedded in my culture and traditional practices. The unearthing of this treasure works to understand that my home country, similar to my understanding of my identity and purpose were never erased, simply buried. And like treasure, are valuable and rich. 



phantom child, unearthly white
fallen in the midst of worldly cries 
grievous composition bound by dis-ease
inevitable departure

famine of 1890

predictable fault in judgement
arrival of maternal instinct
the shape of a woman
appearing to relieve

plants the kiss of death instead 

* Ekphrastic poem in response to Homeless, 1890, by Thomas Benjamin Kennington

The painting speaks of destitution and impoverishment amongst women and children in 1890s London. It depicts a widow supporting a young boy’s body who is close to death. However, the poem frames the female subject as aiding the boy by relieving him of life, as she plants the ‘kiss of death', upon his forehead. This alternative reading of the painting portrays women, not as nurturing or maternal, as society deems them to be, instead playing the role by performing a mercy killing.

Villanelle : A Stranger's Home

A Stranger's Home

gloomy winter mornings, like a stranger’s home 
quivering, shivering, this heart’s a frosty globe
thumping against my chest, a reminder I’m all alone

no one here to listen to my moans and groan
to hear me complain, despite the scarf around my earlobes
gloomy winter mornings, like a stranger’s home

will it ever simmer down? or will this feeling be forever unknown?
I think, some bourbon right now would be pretty dope...
thumping against my chest, a reminder I’m all alone

looking for a way back, there’s no reception on the phone
failing to locate anyone nearby, perhaps it’s best to lose hope
gloomy winter mornings, like a stranger’s home

this fog, the brisk mist, I feel it in my bones
no one to hold on to, it’s up to me to be able to cope
thumping against my chest, a reminder I’m all alone

such loneliness... in it, must I roam?
to stop and wait? that idea screams nope!
gloomy winter mornings, like a stranger’s home
thumping against my chest, a reminder I’m all alone 

*This villanelle comprises nineteen lines- five stanzas of three lines each and one closing stanza of four lines. It follows an ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABAA rhyme scheme with line 1 repeating in lines 6, 12, and 18 and line 3 repeating in lines 9, 15, and 19. It speaks of winter, and its tendency to make you feel alone, comparable to being in a stranger’s home, tapping into humour as the protagonist ‘goes mad’ amongst the descending temperature. 


Up close,
she thought about how his hairline made an ‘M’ shape on his larger-than-ideal forehead. He was too young to be losing hair, and it made her think about stupid stuff like genetics and whether their kids would lose their hair that early on. Whether her contrastingly small forehead would mean that they’d create the perfect-sized forehead-ed children. Whether they would grow into their teen years, become conscious of their looks and start to recognise that they were a result of them.

She ran her finger down the bridge of his nose, careful to trace it out as it was, close to the bone, to solidify in her mind, his sculpture. She was cautious of how the rest of her fingers fell on his face, making sure only the pointer sensed the warmth of him. Over the peaks of his eyebrow, his chin and then outlining his face. Never even coming close to acknowledging his lips. That would be weird. That would make it real.

With his eyes closed though, she knew she was granted permission to decipher what made them so pink. It reminded her of an old friend, who’d once told her it was tradition in their culture to wipe babies’ lips with a red cloth. It would stain them pink, make them more beautiful. She thought about how his mother probably didn’t do that, yet he was beautiful. It relayed in her mind the hues of blossoming flowers and the embodiment of love that the Perth sky would paint every dawn. As his mouth parted gently, she felt he knew his lips were on her mind.

The sight of them made her ponder, how even his most mundane actions, so inconsequential, reminded her of home. A slight sigh and it would be as though mimicking a soft breeze, embedded in tunes of Swades and igniting nostalgia within.

Inching infusion of blush, overtaking the outer-most cartilage of his ears and seeping into his cheeks, it confirmed to her that her gaze was more stinging, more apparent than she ought it to be. She felt a voice tug at her own, and with sudden shamelessness, she planted a kiss on his neck. Caught up at the pure sight of him, she had no control over her true instincts, like flinching at the heat of a fire.

Gentle, her lips pressed onto his cold and risen skin. He exhaled at this, and it was louder than his sigh. She raised her eyes to meet his. A deep-sea blue... how cliché.

In that very moment, with a single swift movement, she placed her hand and pressed down on the highest, most prominent, point of his Adam’s apple. Releasing her other side, she forced her entire weight onto her hand around his throat, whilst reaching the other one into the elastic of her waistband.

A short metal instrument, spear-shaped, she jabbed it into his neck. Months in confinement had given her enough time to think about weapons and to shave down the handle of a spoon, sharpening it; tying threads she’d pull out her smock, over the mouth of the spoon, for grip. 

Red is a piece of flash fiction that attempts to shock the reader and have them go “I can never read it like I did the first time”. It employs poetic prose to situate the audience in the protagonist’s mindset and colour to hint at, and bind the past, present and future.