A nation needs its anthems, flags, soldiers, and statues. But, the function of the writer is something else. Writers are the ones who capture the conflict, the dissonance, and often the lies we are constantly told over and over again. We’re all living through a remarkable moment, especially for many of us in South Asia, particularly in India. As we at The Polis Project try to make sense of what is happening today, we decided that we would use the 45th anniversary of the Emergency to take a strong look at the past and the present. We reached out to historians and journalists who covered the Emergency to think about the past. But, when it came to the present, we really wanted to reach out to the writers and the poets on what they thought of the state of the republic. The conversation you will now hear is an exchange between Suchitra Vijayan and a writer, Annie Zaidi. It’s a conversation about small mercies and many tyrannies. But, it’s also a conversation about how we think, act, and react in an age where the very act of thinking could become an act of treason.